Contact Details

Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370

Delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman via Zoom during the DSWP National Advocacy Agenda Conference on 18 November 2022

DSWP National Chairperson Beth Angsioco and other officers of DSWP, community women leaders of DSWP’s chapters, friends and fellow women’s rights advocates, good afternoon.

It is my honor to address you today as you chart your organization’s agenda, outline your plans for the future, and reinforce your commitment to your enduring advocacies to uplift women’s lives and achieve greater gender equality and equity.

This is my ninth and last term as a legislator and I hope that with your invaluable help in terms of lobbying and grassroots campaigning for women empowering legislation, I can graduate with honors.

I can only do so if the sister bills of the Reproductive Health Law – the bill reinstituting divorce in the Philippines and the bill on the prevention of adolescent pregnancy – will also become statutes.

Kung ang dalawa kong panukalang batas na ito ay maipasa ngayong 19th Congress, hindi lamang ako mag-gra-graduate with honors, ako ay magtatapos bilang summa cum laude.

Ako ay nagpapasalamat na ang dalawa kong priority measures na ito ay kasama sa “Women’s Agenda” ng Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines.

You supported and sustained the RH campaign until we were victorious not only in the Congress and Malacañang, but also in the Supreme Court.

I will say it again: without your invaluable and enduring help and support for 13 long years, we would not be celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the RH Law this coming December.

Matibay ang aking pag-asa na ibubuhos muli ninyo ang suporta upang maipasa ang divorce at prevention of adolescent pregnancy bills.

Si Beth Angsioco mismo ang nag-suggest na ang title of House Bill No. 78, should be “An Act Reinstituting Absolute Divorce as an Alternative Mode for the Dissolution of Marriage.” Bakit reinstituting? Ito ay dahil ang diborsyo ay hindi banyagang konsepto para sa mga Pilipino. In Pre-Hispanic Philippines divorce was readily available and could be initiated by either the husband or the wife. During the American Rule and Japanese Occupation, we had divorce in the Philippines.

I cannot overemphasize that notwithstanding the criticisms of the divorce bills oppositors, divorce will not lead to the demise of the institution of marriage and will not smear its sanctity.

Divorce is not for everyone. The greater number of the marriages in the Philippines are happy and vibrant and majority of couples succeed in making their marriages work despite the usual problems that all married couples go through.

Divorce is only an alternative solution and option for couples in abusive relationships and irretrievably broken and long-dead marriages.

We say that the RH Law and the divorce bill are companion measures because at the heart of both are women. Tinitiyak ng RH law ang karapatan ng isang babae na malayang magpasya kung ilang anak ang kaya niya palakihin at kailan siya manganganak, habang nababawasan ang mga babaeng namamatay sa pagbubuntis at panganganak; at pinalalaya naman ng divorce law ang isang babae mula sa mapang-abusong relasyon at tumutulong sa kanya na mabawi ang dignidad at paggalang sa sarili.

Ang absolute divorce ay magbibigay ng mahabaging libing para sa isang matagal nang patay at wala nang pag-asang pagsasama. But the State continues its duty and obligation to defend and preserve happy and vibrant marriages.

When a marriage totally breaks down and reconciliation is nil, it is also the duty of the State to afford relief to the spouses in irreconcilable conflict relation and bail them out and their children from the tempest of incessant discord.

The State cannot abandon couples and their children in a house on fire.

Love, trust, and respect, which are the veritable foundations of marriage and family, are voluntary, mutual and earned, and when they are lost, no amount of compulsion by custom, religion or law can restore their value.

More often than not, it is the wives who bear the brunt of a dysfunctional marriage; it is the wives who are at the receiving end of a violent temper; and it is the wives who are cheated on. But ironically, it is also the wives who are the first to try to repair a broken marriage, they are the ones more likely to suggest seeking professional help, they are the ones who endeavor to keep the family from falling apart.

Perforce, when a wife says “enough is enough”, the State is obliged to listen.


The third in this triumvirate of women-centered law is House Bill 79 on the prevention of adolescent pregnancies.

If we are to truly uplift the lives of women, we must start by improving the future of young girls. With this in mind, it must be underscored that one of greatest predictors of future poverty is early childbearing.

In 2020, the UNFPA reported that the “Philippines has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates among the ASEAN member states.” It documented that “more than 500 Filipino adolescent girls are getting pregnant and giving birth everyday”.

Therefore, the results of the latest Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey (YAFS5) of the UP Population Institute that the proportion of young women 15 to 19 years old who have begun childbearing declined significantly from 13.7% in 2013 to 6.8% in 2021 bring some relief.

However, we should remember that this survey was conducted during extraordinary times – a time of strict government lockdowns and protracted online classes which prevented young people from being physically together with their peers.

Bukod dito, sa kabila ng malaking pang kalahatang pagbaba sa teenage pregnancies, more than half of the regions posted higher rates than the national average. Halimbawa, ang Davao Region ay may 13.6% teenage pregnancy rate at ang Bangsamoro Region ay nagtala ng 10%.

We have to remain committed and vigilant in our campaign against early childbearing dahil habang bumaba ang kaso ng pagbubuntis sa mga edad 15-19 years, dumaraming naman ang kaso ng bagbubuntis sa mga tinatawag na “very young adolescents” who are not included in the YAFS5.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (Civil Registry and Vital Statistics) show a growing number of live births among very young minors, specifically among 10- to 14-year-old children.

When a young girl gets pregnant, it is not only her future that is being sacrificed. The consequences of adolescent pregnancy create a ripple-effect that also impact adversely on the national economy.

Dahil sa maagang pagbubuntis, maraming teenage mothers ay hindi na nakatapos ng pag-aaral, walang sapat na kakayahan para makakuha ng maayos trabaho, at mas malamang maging mahirap. And all these perpetuate inter-generational poverty. Ibig sabihin, hindi lang sila ang mas malamang maging mahirap, malaki ang posibilidad na ang kanilang mga anak at mga apo ay patuloy na magiging mahirap.

Legislating a comprehensive law on preventing adolescent pregnancy is imperative to institutionalize policies and strategies on eliminating or mitigating adolescent pregnancy, and extend social protection to adolescent mothers and their infants.

Verily, enacting a law preventing adolescent pregnancy will save young girls from the clutches of maternal death, unemployment and poverty, and improve their future and reinforce their self-esteem.

We have had a long and successful partnership through the years. With your invaluable help and steadfast support, the Congress has recently enacted landmark laws like the “Expanded Maternity Leave Law”, “Safe Spaces Act”, “Criminalization of Child Marriage Act”, and “Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Act”, not to mention the RH Law.

Let us continue working together as we campaign and fight for the enactment of the divorce bill and prevention of adolescent pregnancy bill.

Maraming salamat sa inyong walang sawang suporta at mabuhay ang DSWP!