CPD, UNFPA, PLCPD urge passage of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill

July 11, 2024

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – For this year’s World Population Day, the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Philippines, and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) emphasized on July 11, the urgent need for the passage of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill in the Philippines. 

The institutions, alongside other government agencies, made the call during a media conference for World Population Day. This year’s theme, “Embracing the power of inclusive data towards a resilient and equitable future for all,” underscores the importance of addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with comprehensive policies and programs.

Data from government agencies and UNFPA’s State of World Population 2024 report reveal the persistent challenges faced by adolescents, including high unmet need for family planning, concerning adolescent birth rates, and rising cases of HIV/AIDS. These issues disproportionately affect marginalized communities, emphasizing the importance of inclusive data collection and targeted interventions.

For the Philippines, CPD noted a hike in total live births by young girls aged 10-19. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s most recent release of Registered Live Births in the Philippines, these live births rose from 136, 302 in 2021 to 150, 138 in 2022, a 10.2% increase.

g policy environment to protect young people from unplanned pregnancies and its consequences, is critical in enhancing the socioeconomic growth potential of the country. As the main duty bearer, the government has the main responsibility to create such an environment.” said the undersecretary for population and development, or POPDEV.

“We now know that adolescent pregnancy rates in the Philippines are relatively high, especially compared to similar countries in the region. There’s a considerable unmet need for family planning among adolescents, indicating a lack of knowledge and access. HIV and AIDS are on the rise among young people. Additionally, issues like gender-based violence and child marriage persist, especially in marginalized communities,” said UNFPA Philippines Country Representative Dr. Leila Saiji Joudane during the event.

Joudane said having a law that addresses adolescent pregnancies can provide a framework for comprehensive action, addressing the root causes of the issue and ensuring that young people have the information and support they need to make healthy choices. “The passage of this bill is a crucial step towards empowering young people and ensuring their right to sexual and reproductive health,” she said.

The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation aimed at addressing the root causes of adolescent pregnancy. It provides for comprehensive sexuality education, improved access to adolescent-friendly SRHR services, and data collection mechanisms to inform future policies and programs.

“It is important to recognize that as we want to protect children and adolescents, they have the right to have access to age- and development-appropriate information and services, including family planning. In our minds as advocates of children’s rights, women’s rights, and reproductive health: there are no contradictions in this, but only the coexistence of the rights to be protected and to have access to information and services,” explained PLCPD Executive Director Romeo C. Dongeto.

The bill, which has been approved by the House of Representatives and pending plenary discussion at the Senate, is only four steps away from approval in the Senate and six steps away from enactment.

“We can no longer delay this measure. Let us not allow the effort and discussions started in the previous Congresses and in the early 19th Congress to go to waste. We call upon the Senators to act on this bill with urgency,” Mr. Dongeto added.

The agencies called on the Senate to prioritize the passage of this vital bill, emphasizing that it is a critical investment in the future of young Filipinos.

They urged all stakeholders to rally behind the bill and champion the rights and well-being of adolescents for a more equitable and prosperous future for all.