MANILA, Philippines — Reproductive rights advocate and former Commission on Population (PopCom) head Tomas Osias passed away on Saturday, May 16.
The PopCom mourned the loss of a great “leader, mentor, and friend.”
Osias is revered as PopCom’s longest-serving executive director, hailing him as a “passionate and committed advocate, and a father to all.”
During his term as PopCom head, Osias was at the helm of implementing the government’s family planning programs. He was a staunch advocate of promoting responsible parenthood, years even before the Reproductive Health (RH) law was passed in 2012.
His advocacy tried to educate the Filipino public about the intersections of poverty, maternal and infant health, with a strong focus on teaching effective and affordable family planning methods. He reminded couples that they have the right to choose whatever method they prefer, be it natural or artificial, as long as they make informed choices.
“Mr Osias, called Boss Tom by PopCom employees, wanted journalists to understand fully the breadth and scope of reproductive health and rights,” Diana Mendoza, his former media consultant, posted on Facebook.
“Although aware of his limitations as a communicator, he made sure his male voice was as strong as loud as the women’s who never budged fighting for RH. Even as PopCom was being tossed around by DOH, NEDA, and whoever was sitting president at that time, he continued nudging everyone in his circle to resurrect the badly wounded RH Bill into something new and better again,” Mendoza continued.
In 2004, Osias also supported a Muslim decree on RH, stressing that the importance of family planning transcends religions and cultures. He is also known for defying then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose stand on RH was opposite his.
Mendoza said that Osias’ dream finally came true through the RH law. “I’m certain he believes that this is the beginning of what he has hoped for, and that he can have the rest he deserves.” – Rappler.com
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