Briones: No condom distribution in schools

 MANILA, Philippines – Education Secretary Leonor Briones said there will be no condom distribution in schools as this is the responsibility of another agency, the Department of Health (DOH).

In explaining the apparent turnaround in its position on the matter, the Department of Education (DepEd) said in a statement on Monday, January 30, that its primary role in enhancing gender sensitivity and reproductive health education “is to review and strengthen the basic education curriculum.”

“We will follow the UNESCO guidelines on reproductive health, including the requirements of the Constitution and the law….Obviously what we’re allowed to do is to improve the curriculum,” Briones said in explaining why the DepEd won’t be involved in condom distribution in schools.

She said there will be no condom distribution in schools, since health centers are ones that are supposed to do this.

“Nothing within the school premises because right now, you have the health centers who are already tasked with that function," Brions said.

Briones said DepEd’s responsibility in this regard would be to teach students about “the consequence of pre-marital sex, the dangers involved, but not the distribution (of condoms).”

In December last year, the Cabinet official defended the plan Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial to distribute condoms in schools beginning this year, and said then that it would be carried out, as planned.

Briones said then that the program would be done with "great sensitivity," and condoms would not be given out to students like leaflets distributed in shopping centers.

Critics of the reproductive health law like Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III had scored Ubial for pushing for condom distribution in schools, claiming that this would promote pre-marital sex among teenagers.

Ubial had stood her ground, citing "studies globally" that showed providing condoms did not promote promiscuity and even "made sexually-active teens more cautious and knowledgeable" about unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections.

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– Rappler.com