President Arroyo’s longest serving cabinet official has passed away yesterday morning (Philippine time). Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde suffered a major heart attack late morning in his house in Bel-Air Village, Makati. He died at around 11:51 AM. He was 51.
Cerge assume his post on the 1st of February 2009. Having worked previously as a radio commentator, he rose to become a member of the President’s cabinet. First as head of the Government Mass Media Group (GMMG) with the rank of secretary, then as Director-General of the Presidential Management Staff. And finally as the Press Secretary. Whose job title is to defend the President from the media.
The intense pressure and stress he had on his job were to blame for his death. He came under intense pressure when President Arroyo’s ratings plunged last month. He even placed the blame on himself for “failing to work effectively as press secretary”. And noting the fact that he had several risk factors going against him. Based on Remonde’s medical profile, he had hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Remonde has made it clear to the media before that he was to step down as press secretary on June 2010 after Arroyo’s term, and that he would return to his “first love”, media. It is a pity that he did not make it to that point however.
Among the many positions he held concurrently were senior adviser to the GRP-NDF Peace Panel, commissioner of the Communications Committee of UNESCO, and chairman of the Advertising Board of the Philippines, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, and the Appeals Board of the MTRCB.