Philippine population

Alarming surge: Teen pregnancies plague Northern Mindanao, Ilocos regions

Uriel Quilinguing, John Michael Mugas

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Alarming surge: Teen pregnancies plague Northern Mindanao, Ilocos regions
Northern Mindanao and Ilocos officials cite disturbing statistics to push for legislative action and intensified efforts to safeguard the well-being of young Filipinos

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – One region in Southern Philippines and another in the north share a common challenge: Both are wrestling with the alarming rise in teenage pregnancies.

In the Northern Mindanao and Ilocos regions, officials cited disturbing statistics, which underscore the nationwide concern over the escalating rates of teenage motherhood, to push for legislative action and intensified efforts to safeguard the well-being of young Filipinos.

Lifting every household in the Northern Mindanao region above the poverty threshold has been a daunting task for the state’s lead agency in population programs, owing to the Mindanao region’s high incidence of teenage pregnancies in recent years.

30 teen mothers a day

Neil Aldrin Omega, regional director of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), said on Wednesday, February 28, that approximately 30 teenagers gave birth daily in Northern Mindanao from 2019 to 2022.

In 2022, the CPD recorded 11,020 live births from teenage mothers aged 11 to 19 years old. Worse still, there was a 30% increase observed among girls aged 10 to 14 years old becoming mothers, rising from 170 in 2020 to 222 in 2021 and 287 in 2022.

Out of the 11,020 live births in the region, over 4,600, or about 42%, were reported in Bukidnon, over 2,000 (19%) in Misamis Oriental, and over 1,300 (12%) in Cagayan de Oro, the region’s capital city.

Camiguin situation

Even Camiguin Island, Northern Mindanao’s smallest province, has witnessed a rising number of adolescent pregnancies, prompting the province’s governor, Xavier Jesus Romualdo, to address the challenge of preventing young girls from becoming mothers during his State of the Province Address in January.

Romualdo said the provincial government had documented 132 live births involving mothers in their teens, some as young as 13 years old, in 2022, compared to only 72 in 2021 – an 83% increase. 

Within nine months of 2023, the Camiguin Provincial Health Office had already recorded 122 teenage pregnancies.

The situation prompted the Camiguin provincial government to move for the establishment of teen center facilities in all its five municipalities. 

Romualdo has called on the provincial board to draft a measure on adolescent pregnancy, which he vowed to fully implement, alongside the reimposition of curfews among minors.

Stumbling block

Northern Mindanao’s fertility rate dropped to 2.1 per 1,000 people in 2022 from 3.1 in 2017. During the period from 2015 to 2020, the population growth rate slowed to 1.46% from 1.58% in the 2010-2015 period. However, Omega explained that despite these changes, the expected benefits of a growing population couldn’t be realized due to teenage pregnancies.

He said demographic dividend entails a better-educated population capable of making decisions and taking actions to improve the quality of their lives, such as securing gainful employment, maintaining a healthy environment, and accessing social services.

Omega said these goals could not be attained with high rates of teenage pregnancies, as the situation would only perpetuate intergenerational poverty – a circumstance in which people who grow up in families with incomes below the poverty line remain poor as adults.

He said that while children are considered “gifts from God,” families must decide how many they can afford to raise well.

The average family with five members in Northern Mindanao needed at least P13,787 per month to meet their minimum basic food and non-food needs in the first semester of 2023 alone, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Omega said studies have shown that teenage mothers and fathers could only realize 80% of their earning potential. Often, he added, they are unable to complete their college education, thereby limiting their opportunities for high-paying jobs.

Same problem in Ilocos

The same situation is happening in the Ilocos region in Luzon where population officials hope that the passage of a bill will curb the dramatic increase.

Citing PSA data, CPD-Ilocos officials said live births among young girls under 15 increased by 194.74%, or from 38 in 2020 to 112 in 2022.

If passed, the measure would be “essential in addressing the lingering concern of early childbearing and motherhood among a great number of our juvenile Filipino girls,” according to CPD Undersecretary Lisa Grace Bersales.

Three of the four provinces in Region I – Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan – recorded high rates of teenage pregnancies among those under 15 from 2020 to 2022, the CPD said.

“The highest [was recorded] in Pangasinan – from 10 in 2020 to 73 in 2022,” the CPD added.

National emergency

A national social emergency was declared by the government in 2019 due to rising pregnancies among those aged 10 to 14.

The CPD noted that other areas in the country also marked higher teenage pregnancies for girls under 15, noting a 35.13% national increase, from 2,320 in 2021 to 3,135 in 2022.

Bersales noted that passing the APPB would also be essential for implementing the Philippine Population and Development Plan of Action (PPD-POA), where strategies have been mapped out to “[advance] adolescent health and development, including the prevention of early pregnancies.” –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!