BATAC City — Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones had strongly assailed the plan of the Department of Health (DOH) to allow teachers to distribute condoms to elementary and high school students across the country and stressed this would not happen under her watch.
Briones made the reaction to settle, once and for all, the issues surrounding the controversial reproductive health law that has been passed by both houses of Congress, saying that such move by the DOH will only incite premarital sex which might result in teenage pregnancy among the youth.
Speaking before the more than 100 DepEd officials in Region 1 during the 3rd Regional Management Committee (ManCom) meeting held at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Hostel Function Hall in this town, Briones said that if she will allow this to happen, there is a tendency that it might be abused, and this could give rise to the number of children with HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) cases in the country.
“This is very ironic because we have already on record of an 11-year-old girl having contracted the dreaded AIDS virus, while another 10-year-old had given birth to a baby recently,” she said.
Briones reiterated her stand on the matter in an interview with reporters at the Rivermount Hotel in Sarrat town today, February 9 for the conduct of the 3rd National ManCom meeting.
The Secretary assailed in particular the DOH’s plan to ask teachers to help in the agency’s campaign against the proliferation of HIV cases among the youth in the elementary and high school levels in the country, thinking that the use of condoms might be of great help. The distribution of condoms, Briones said, will start among the pupils in the Grade 3 level.
“One more thing is that some women teachers today are still single with no experience in pre-marital sex. So how could they teach the children how to use the condom when in fact they themselves are ignorant about it?” she exclaimed.
Briones, however, said that teachers have a unique role in the implementation of the RH law because they are compelled to educate the youth on the dangers of pre-marital sex and advise them to abstain from it.
“If in the course of their teachings they found out that some of the children are now practicing it, we should strongly condemn the act and tell them to stop,” the Secretary said, adding that the distribution of condoms “is not our business in the education sector.”
Meanwhile, records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that one in every 10 young Filipino women aged 15 to 19 has begun childbearing. Of this number, eight percent are already mothers and another two percent are pregnant with their first child. Among young adult women aged 20 to 24, at least 43 percent are already mothers and four percent are pregnant with their first child.
Early pregnancy and motherhood varies by education, wealth quintile, and region, according to the PSA. It is more common among young adult women aged 15 to 24 with less education than among those with higher education (44 percent for women with elementary education versus 21 percent for women with college education).
PSA records also show that early childbearing is more common in Caraga Region (38 percent) and Cagayan Valley (37 percent) than other regions. The proportion of young adult women who have begun childbearing is higher among those classified as belonging to poor households than those in wealthier households (37 percent for young women in the lowest wealth quintile versus 13 percent for women in the highest wealth quintile). Reynaldo Andres/PNA