PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has signed an order recognizing the problem of teenage pregnancies in the country by making the implementation of “practicable” measures addressing its root causes as a national priority.

All government agencies, especially those involved in youth affairs, are directed to assist in finding solutions.

Under Executive Order No. 141, Mr. Duterte mandates all government agencies and instrumentalities to identify and implement “practicable” interventions to arrest adolescent pregnancies such as comprehensive sexuality education, education and employment opportunities for young people, and health promotion through media and communications.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the order said a total of 180,916 live births or 495 per day among adolescents aged 10-19 years were recorded in 2019.

Agencies should maximize the use of digital and online platforms in campaigning for responsible parenthood as well as raise awareness on the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights, the order said.

Special focus should also be given to geographically isolated and depressed areas such as island towns, upland communities, and conflict-affected areas by empowering local offices and strengthening partnerships with civil society organizations and other stakeholders, the order said.

Among those that should be at the forefront of resolving teenage pregnancies are the Sangguniang Kabataan or local youth councils, National Youth Commission, and the Commission on Population and Development.

The order also tasks the Department of Budget and Management to ensure that the annual National Expenditure Program would “include initiatives for the prevention of adolescent pregnancies in the annual Budget Priorities Framework and its corresponding budget guidelines.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza