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Popcom, DSWD seek ₧78-million initial budget to extend aid to teen moms

The Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are requesting for an initial budget of P78 million to provide social protection for teen mothers and their children.

Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio Perez III told the BusinessMirror on Thursday that Popcom aims to extend P50 million for the project while DSWD will extend P22 million. He said the DSWD would also try to secure P6 million for 2022 to bankroll the project.

Perez said the Popcom and DSWD would be finalizing the mechanism of social protection, particularly the amounts to be received by teen mothers. He added they are also eyeing to source counterpart funding from local government units (LGU) with the expected implementation of the “Mandanas” ruling.

“We have not yet discussed a specific amount, but because of the Mandanas ruling which will affect national government budgets, we will need a counterpart fund from LGUs,” Perez said. “We intend to conduct a needs assessment first which we will complete by September.”

On Thursday, the DSWD and Popcom formalized their partnership for the social protection program for teenage mothers and their children (SPPTMC) through a virtual memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing.

The Popcom said SPPTMC aims to cushion the impact of their pregnancy on their incomes which are often limited because their education was put on hold because of their condition.

The social protection mechanism will be directed toward easing the financial burdens of unintended pregnancies of mothers who are 10 to 19 years old, as well as those of their families.

The MOA covers the development of an information system to identify teen moms and their children nationwide, the health services they can access and avail of, nutrition support, and mental health.

It also covers the ability to return to school and a social amelioration program to support those belonging to the lowest socioeconomic bracket until such time they are able to find gainful work or livelihood, among others.

“It has been established that adolescent mothers are at a gross disadvantage in terms of potential earnings in their lifetime, making them more economically vulnerable in life—compared to their peers who have finished secondary education and have yet to bear children,” Perez said.

“[Lifetime earnings of teen mothers are] at least four times less than what they are supposed to receive. Likewise, their condition will bear heavily on a families’ savings by about one-third of every unplanned pregnancy. Thus, we see this social protection initiative as a means to ease their financial burdens,” he stressed.

According to data from Popcom, the Philippines ranked fourth in terms of early childbirth rates among Southeast Asian countries.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) showed that there were about 171 live births born to minors every day in 2019.

PSA also noted a general increase in the number of births from very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 in that same year, with about seven live births born to children every day, compared to three daily in 2011.

The PSA-CRVS also revealed that in 2015, there were 5,297 repeat pregnancies, or second-time births, among 10- to 17-year-old girls, with only a slight decrease in 2018 at 4,633.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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