As part of the celebration of Population and Development Week, the Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), Department of Education (DepEd), National Youth Commission (NYC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a joint campaign for adolescent health and development, including adolescent sexual and reproductive health concerns.

The I CHOOSE #MalayaAkongMaging campaign primarily targets adolescents and encourages them to exercise the freedom to be who they want to be by helping them determine healthy options for themselves, which also extend to their networks, their families, and communities.

Along with development partners, the government agencies aim to provide safe platforms for the adolescent population where they can engage among their peers as well as with medical providers and experts to access appropriate health information and services.

Fully recognizing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all individuals, campaign stakeholders — particularly POPCOM — are pursuing and creating an enabling environment for the well-being and development of both adolescent boys and girls in the country by way of available and accessible information and services, as well as recently enacted legislation.

“Issues surrounding the youth, specifically those addressing root causes of teen pregnancy, became an urgent national priority when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order 141 on June 25, 2021,” explained Undersecretary for Population and Development (POPDEV) Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH, POPCOM’s executive director. “Such concerns affect the essence of our country’s development in demographic terms, as the state of our young people today will influence the attainment of our demographic transition by 2025.”

Through this joint campaign, the DOH continues to ensure overall health and well-being of all Filipino adolescents.

“Together, let us empower our Filipino adolescents to have the freedom to be who they want to be by helping them choose healthy options for themselves that extend to other people, their families, and their communities. Dapat malaya silang maging para sa kanilang sarili, para sa kanilang Masayang Pamilya, at para sa isang Healthy Pilipinas,” said DOH Secretary Dr Francisco T. Duque III.

Alignment with other campaigns

DOH and POPCOM have collaborated with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in integrating the I CHOOSE campaign to the PCW-led 18-day “Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW)” from November 25 to December 12, 2021.

As the adolescent health brand and safe platform where adolescents can freely share and bring up conversations about love, relationships, and sexuality without judgment, the I CHOOSE #MalayaAkongMaging aligns with and supports the messaging of the Campaign to End VAW, zeroing in on the Safe Spaces Act (#SanaAllSpacesSafe)advocacy and its objective to encourage everyone to commit to ensuring safe spaces for all in any way possible.

Also, as part of the agencies’ commitment to empower adolescent children with the knowledge that they can confidently claim and fulfill their rights in the new normal if they are well-supported by the duty-bearers through a whole-of-society approach, this campaign launch aimed to spark conversations in promoting public awareness in the observance of the National Children’s Month this November as well.

POPCOM’s executive director called on all “I CHOOSE” campaign stakeholders to make wise choices in investing in youth development that will yield dividends in the next generation, as, according to him, an empowered youth will help achieve the country’s goals outlined in Ambisyon 2040.