No to condom distribution

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ALLOWING condom distribution to high school students in public institutions is like giving the go signal to have sex anytime they feel like doing it. It is condoning immorality and abets promiscuity and reckless behavior that have caused the worsening HIV-Aids case in the first place.

On Dec. 2, 2016, the Department of Health (DOH) said it would distribute condoms to junior and high school students. It is said to be part of its “business unusual” strategy to check the drastic rise of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) among the youth. The official website of DOH shows that between January 2011 and June 2016, over 8,000 HIV/Aids cases of Filipinos aged 25 and below have been recorded. DOH has allocated one billion pesos for HIV/Aids program, where 50 to 100 million pesos would go to condom procurement.

DOH has partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) to carry out the proposal. As the promoter of quality education where the goal is to produce well-equipped individuals, DepEd holds the responsibility to distinguish what may inflict intellectual harm and break the values of their students. As of this writing, the education department has not said yes to the proposal yet, but would most likely do.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they would implement it only after a series of formal talks with the health agency to analyze the possible impact of the program.

What now?

Such unwise decision is appalling. It is obvious that DOH did not bother to evaluate the consequences of its rushed decisions, which may actually create a culture of promiscuity to teenagers who barely know how to cook a decent meal for their starving stomachs. Imagine the parents witnessing their innocent children receive condoms that are supposedly exclusive to married couples only. Condom distribution would not end the worsening cases of HIV/Aids among the youth in the country. What’s worse is that it may even result in more documented “free condoms” as it would encourage the youth to engage in pre-marital sex.

While it is true that stopping the ballooning cases of HIV/Aids requires urgent attention, DOH needs to know that there are other logical ways to address the concern. The allotted budget of some P100 million is a lot of money that could have been donated to HIV/Aids patients who do not have the ability to afford quality medication.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, released an official statement saying the government should focus on educating the people more and not by allowing the high school students to take free condoms.

“We need to address the rising number of HIV cases in the country. But the government should invest more in educating people about the perils of sporadic sexual activity than procuring and distributing condoms,” Secillano said.

Based from the teachings of the Church, sex is a sacred gift between two married couples in order to procreate. Sex is not just for fun and pleasure. Emphasizing the importance of respecting the sacrament of marriage, the Catholic Church has maintained that parents should be the first educators of their children when it comes to instilling how sacred sex really is.

It is gratifying to know, however, that the two high schools in the University has always been aware when to draw the line between what orders from the education department are worth heeding and what should not be followed. Should the condom distribution become mandatory even to private institutions, the University’s Junior High School Principal Marishirl Tropicales promises that they would say no.

“UST High School has always been conscious in following the mandates imposed by the DepEd and other government agencies. This, however, must be tempered by the inherent rights of UST as a Catholic school,” Tropicales told the Varsitarian.

It is the same for UST Education High School Principal Loreto Sauz who maintained that condom distribution “might give [students] the wrong idea that as long as they are using condom, it’s already allowed to have sex.”

We believe that this project by the health agency is not the best solution on stopping the HIV/Aids cases. Proper education about responsible sex is what the youth needs. DepEd should not be afraid to refuse in implementing such project. Hopefully, they would say no.

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