DAVAO CITY, Philippines — To stem the tide of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and the rising number of teenage pregnancy cases in the city, the Department of Health announced Monday that it would fast-track next year the distribution of condoms in public schools.
Dr. Abdullah Dumama, assistant secretary of health for Mindanao, said the condoms would be distributed for junior and senior high school students in Davao region after they get the approved order from DOH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial and Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
Dumama said that students would undergo a guidance counseling first before receiving the condoms.
“We wanted this to be implemented the right away because there is a rising incident of HIV cases and teenage pregnancy already,” he said.
Benjie Martinez, a senior high school English teacher from the University Mindanao said, the distribution of condoms is welcome since it is a huge step for DepED to eliminate the conservative mentality of Filipino’s on sex.
“The problem is that schools are treating it as a taboo and thinks of sex education as a big no-no. They should be realistic,” he said.
Martinez said that DepEd cannot even stop both premarital and same-gender sex.
“Condoms are designed for the two ultimate purposes: to avoid unwanted pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and herpes,” he said.
He said that it may not lessen the rate of people with HIV/AIDS or teenage pregnancy but condoms may prevent the rate to escalate further.
For social science teacher Aizen Chadee Debuque, condom distribution is encouraging children to have pre-marital sex.
She proposes instead for DepEd to focus on sex education.
Debuqeu pointed out that discussion on HIV/AIDS and STD would be more effective rather than distributing condoms.
Debuque said DepEd should first strengthen the foundation of children in their knowledge on sex.
“What is the purpose of distributing condoms if the students have no knowledge on HIV/AIDS, other STDs and teenage pregnancy,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jordana Ramiterre, head of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, told Davao Today that Davao region has new 475 cases of HIV/AIDS , which were added to the 1,791 cases since 1984.
The Commission of Population XI presented in July that Davao Region ranked third highest in the number of youth engaged in pre-marital sex in 2013 with 38.5 percent or 370,000, a figure higher by 15.3 points from 23.2 percent in 2002 , 295,000 of it or 8 in 10 participated in their first pre-marital sex encounter without any form of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unwanted pregnancies. (davaotoday.com)