Briones: Condoms won't be given out like leaflets in schools

MANILA, Philippines – Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the health department's plan to give out condoms in schools will push through in 2017, but it will be done with "great sensitivity," and condoms won't be given out to students like leaflets distributed in shopping centers.

"Hindi naman sa tatayo sila diyan sa pinto, bawat pumapasok bibigyan, kagaya ng nagbibigay ng leaflet diyan…. Hindi ganoon. It has to be done very carefully," Briones told reporters on Wednesday, December 14.

(Those who distribute won't stand there at the door and give condoms to everyone who comes in, as if giving out leaflets. It won't be like that. It has to be done very carefully.)

The Department of Health's latest strategy to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among the youth "has to be age-appropriate," Briones said, so it will most likely involve only students in junior and senior high school.

Echoing Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Briones said they won't distribute condoms without proper counseling.

"At kung ano man ang guidelines nila, usapan namin with the Department of Health since we understand each other eh kailangan kasama kami sa pag-operationalize nitong policy na ito dahil ang subject naman ay amin, aming mga bata, learners namin," the education secretary added.

(Whatever their guidelines may be, our agreement with the Department of Health since we understand each other is that the education department should be part of the process to operationalize this policy because the subject, anyway, is our children, our learners.)

She also raised alarm over the rising levels of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS in the Philippines, noting that "our next generation is really at risk."

From July to October 2016 alone, the health department recorded 3,112 new HIV cases in the country, bringing to 38,114 the cumulative cases since 1984. (READ: WHO: PH has fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world–

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.