By Fr. Leo Pabayo
ALARM over teenage pregnancy was recently sounded by the executive director of the Commission on Population and Development, Juan Antonio Perez III who also said that this should be considered “a national emergency.”
A columnist of the Inquirer, Ma. Ceres Doyo, delved into this and added more information on it. She cited that a report by “Marlon Ramos quoted Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara as citing the Popcom Statistics that showed that since 2011, pregnancies among 10 to 14-year-old girls rose by 50 percent, and that about 530 teenage girls get pregnant every day.” She further wrote that “the last jolting information on the rising incidence of teenage pregnancy was the 2014 announcement that said: ’The percentage of young girls aged 15-19 who have begun childbearing had more than doubled within the past decade’” (Inquirer, Nov. 7, 2019).
Many factors have brought about this “national emergency.” One of them is the sexual permissiveness that has characterized the culture of the young as evident in many movies and other forms of entertainment that project loose attitude toward sexual relationships between man and woman. The easy access of the young to pornography on the internet is probably the next big factor.
But to cap it all is the kind of sexual education that they were and are being subjected to that virtually encourage them to sexual adventurism. It seems to me that this kind of education started several years ago when the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill 2012, was proposed and debated on in Congress. The debate then was muddled because it was not clear what the RH Bill was for. It was supposed to be mainly about the reproductive health of women but some congressmen used it also to push for population control which had long been a contentious issue although the reproductive health of women was the centerpiece in the debate.
Part of the RH Bill was on the basic education on human sexuality for the young in the health centers and the schools.
The kind of education on sexuality that was proposed turned out to be more of lessons on the use of contraceptives by teen boys and girls. It was reported that then-Secretary of Health, Esperanza Cabral, also distributed condoms to the schools. (Google this.)
The teachers in Catholic schools were alarmed by this kind of sex education. The Catholic bishops protested it.
The proposed RH Bill was discussed thoroughly in an interview by Maria Ressa of Rappler with Ateneo Law Professor Jo Aurea Imbong, Counsel of the Conference of Bishops in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the kind of Sex Education peddled by the Health Secretary Cabral took off. The result has been a startling increase in pregnancy among teenage girls that we now decry and which is referred to by the executive director of the Commission on Population and Development, Juan Antonio Perez III “a national emergency.”
We are now but reaping the fruit of the wrong kind of education on human sexuality. Our task now is how to help pregnant teenagers and how to promote the right kind of education on human sexuality.
(Fr. Leo Pabayo is a member of the Society of Jesus.)