STATEMENT: This Valentine’s Day, think about the children

This Valentine’s Day, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) calls on legislators for meaningful legislative action to address many serious sexual and reproductive health concerns of adolescent, including addressing gender-based violence.

  • 1 in 10 young women 15-19 years old have begun childbearing; 24 babies are born to teen mothers every hour. There are 183,000 adolescents giving birth in the country annually. Birth rate among 15-19-year-olds has been decreasing but there has been a 63%-increase in births among 10-14 year-olds since 2011.
  • Globally, the Philippines ranks 12th in terms of absolute number of child marriages and unions. There are approximately 700,000 of cases of child marriages in the country as of 2013.
  • 1 in 4 children in the Philippines experience sexual violence.
  • The Philippines is the global epicenter of online sexual exploitation of children. In 2018, there were more than 600,000 sexualized photos and videos of children coming from the country, making it the top source of child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM).

Thus, our call for the enactment of the following bills:

  • prevention of adolescent pregnancy bill, which institutionalizes a national program to address the concern and provides social protection for adolescents who are already parents
  • prohibiting child marriage, declaring its facilitation as a criminal act
  • raising the age for determining statutory rape, from below 12 to below 16

We also call on Congress to exercise its oversight function on the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, particularly the mandatory comprehensive sexuality education, as well as on child protection and related laws that will address online sexual exploitation of children.