Remonde passes away

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — He was supposed to hold his daily press briefing at 11 a.m. The night before, he was conferring with his staff members on the preparations for the celebration of his first year anniversary as press secretary on Feb. 1

Seventeen hours later, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was pronounced dead at the Makati Medical Center where he was rushed after he was found unconscious in the bathroom of his residence in Makati City. He was 51.

President Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Conrado Limcauco as acting press secretary in concurrent capacity as head of the Philippine Information Agency.

Remonde’s cardiologist Dr. Anthony Leachon said Remonde’s driver suspected something bad happened when his boss did not come out of the bathroom more than an hour after he entered. He was brought to Makati Medical Center at 11:15 a.m. but efforts to revive him failed.

Leachon said Remonde who was his patient three years ago, had cervical spine problems, diabetes and was suffering from hypertension.

MMC spokesperson Eric Nubla however said they could not say what caused Remonde’s death as there was no autopsy conducted.

Remonde was survived by his wife Marit Stinus Remonde, who was flown by a private plane to Manila from Cebu .

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita who made the official announcement expressed Malacañang’s grief over the death of Remonde.

“It’s a very big loss. You know how good Cerge as Press Secretary is. Nakakalungkot,” Ermita said.

Ermita also noted that Remonde was a “very, very close confidant” of President Macapagal-Arroyo.

He said Remonde’s remains will lie at at the Heritage Memorial Park in Fort Bonifacio. He said they are still waiting for the other details about Remonde’s wake and interment from his wife.

Remonde is the longest-serving Cabinet official of President Macapagal-Arroyo. Only three days after Mrs. Arroyo assumed office in January 2001, Remonde was appointed Press Undersecretary in charge of broadcast.

A former radio reporter and commentator, Remonde was a native of Argao, Cebu . He was also former national chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, a position that he held for an unprecedented six terms.

In 2004, he was named head of the Government Mass Media Group, a Cabinet-level position which oversees all the various government-owned media entities. He also served concurrently as Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

In October 2006, Remonde was appointed Presidential Management Staff chief and Press Secretary in February 2009.