The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM)-MIMAROPA Region breathes a sigh of relief as President Rodrigo R. Duterte has made curbing teen pregnancies a national priority. He signed Executive Order (EO) No. 141 on 25 June 2021 declaring the prevention of teen pregnancies a national priority. EO 141 highlights the implementation of measures addressing adolescent pregnancies in the country.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), POPCOM-MIMAROPA Regional Director Reynaldo O. Wong admits that in 2019 alone 5,277 live births were registered among adolescents aged 10 to 19 years old in the region. This number includes seven 12-year-old girls as among the youngest who gave birth that year.

The EO adopts as a national policy the implementation of measures to address the root causes of why young Filipinos giving birth at such an early age. EO 141 further provides that the “State shall mobilize existing coordinative and legal mechanisms related to the prevention of adolescent pregnancies. It also includes interventions for the prevention of adolescent pregnancies such as comprehensive sexuality education, education and employment opportunities for the young, as well as health promotion through media and communication platforms.”

EO 141 rallies the support of the youth through participation and community mobilization and mandates the Sanggunian Kabataan Councils “to develop interventions and prevent all known causes of adolescent pregnancies” while supporting adolescent mothers.

POPCOM as lead implementer. Meanwhile, POPCOM is directed by the EO “to continue educating leaders, parents, and other community members about evidence-based strategies to curb adolescent pregnancy and improve adolescent reproductive health.”  “POPCOM shall consolidate into a Comprehensive Action Plan towards the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancies the different initiatives of all government agencies and institutions,” the EO stipulated. Specifically, POPCOM may call upon any department, bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of the government for assistance, and shall submit such plan to the Human Development and Poverty Reduction (HDPR) Cabinet Cluster, the President directed.

Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH said that the signing of EO 141 manifests the national government’s deep concern for the most vulnerable during this pandemic. They include minors who had unplanned or unintended pregnancies, which lead to the most vulnerable single-parent families during the pandemic.

Other provisions. The EO in effect directs the DBM to allocate funds for teen pregnancy prevention campaigns. The budget needed will be taken from gender and development funds of the agencies concerned.

EO 141 also mentions preventing adolescent pregnancies as key for all regions to reach their demographic dividend. It also stated the strengthening of youth participation in responsible sexual and reproductive health by lowering the incidences of teenage pregnancies, among others, is covered by the Philippine Youth Development Plan 2017-2022.

“The regional office will double its effort in disseminating and implementing the said EO at the regional level as we have already set upcoming plans for the Third Quarter of geared towards the collaborative mechanisms with agencies concerned to implement EO 141 in full swing,” RD Wong expressed.