Thursday, 21 January 2010

Statement by the Office of the Press Secretary on the passing away of Secretary Cerge M. Remonde

The Office of the Press Secretary wishes to announce, with profound sorrow, that Secretary Cerge M. Remonde succumbed to a heart attack shortly before noon today at the Makati Medical Center. He was 51 years old.

Earlier this morning, the Secretary was discovered unconscious in the bathroom of his residence in Makati. He was brought to Makati Medical where efforts were made to revive him, but to no avail. The news of his passing was first broken by the Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, at the hospital premises.

Secretary Cerge leaves behind his wife, Mrs. Maret Remonde, who is presently en route to Manila by private plane from his home in Cebu. His remains will lie in state at the Heritage Memorial Park in Fort Bonifacio, pending final disposition by his wife upon her arrival here.

Cerge Remonde traced his roots to Argao, Cebu where he grew up. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from the University of the Visayas in Cebu City. Later he took up Cooperation and Development Studies at the Afro-Asia Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1986, and also attended an International Visitors Program hosted by the US State Department in Washington, DC in 1992.

From his initial days as a radio reporter and commentator, Cerge carved out a distinguished career in radio, television, and print. He served as anchor of the highly-rated DYLA Interaction, a primetime show that set the benchmark for public affairs programming. He was also the first ever to rise from the ranks of provincial reporters to become the national chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), a position that he held for an unprecedented six terms.

In January 2001, only three days after President Arroyo first took office, Cerge Remonde was appointed Press Undersecretary in charge of broadcast. In 2004, he was named head of the Government Mass Media Group (GMMG), 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, Cerge Remonde was appointed to head the Presidential Management Staff, and in February 2009, he was named the Press Secretary to the President. Among the many positions he held concurrently, he served as 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.

Secretary Remonde was lavished with many awards and distinctions, among them the Most Outstanding Visayanian in the field of Mass Media in 1998, and, together with former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr, the Most Outstanding Cebuano in 1999.

But as any one of his multitude of friends and admirers well knows, it was their friendship and high regard that he valued most highly. This esteem was something that in turn was given easily to a man with his admirable qualities—professionalism at work, solicitude for the plight of others, loyalty to his President and to the high ideals of public service, and most of all, devotion to his Church and to his God.

Secretary Cerge Remonde will be sorely missed by his colleagues, his friends, and all who grieve his passing today, even as he will continue to be an inspiration to them and a shining example of a life well-lived in the service of his fellow man and for the greater glory of the Creator above. (PND)

Gov’t execs, media members troop to Makati Med

From the huge crowd gathered at the main entrance of Makati Medical Center, including members of the Malacañang Press Corps and high government officials, people could sense that something big was afoot.

Seen among the people milling around were Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Presidential Counsel for Election Matter Romulo Macalintal, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Secretary Ricardo Saludo, Press Undersecretary Romeo Junia, Assistant Secretary Maribel Dario, and senatorial aspirant Rey Langit.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde had been rushed earlier to the hospital after he was found unconscious in his house in Bel-Air, Makati City; an apparent victim of heart attack.

Ermita told reporters that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had already been informed of the press secretary’s demise.

“I could not say her exact reaction, but she was silent, apparently shocked,” Ermita said. “Definitely she will prepare a special honor for him,”

The Malacañang Press Corps members, including Marie Peña Ruiz of Radyo ng Bayan with whom Remonde used to hold regular Saturday interviews on DZRB, could not hold back their tears. Reporters of private and government radio stations and television channels felt the same. Most were of the opinion that the death was “a great loss to the Arroyo administration and to the Philippines.”

“He was a very dedicated civil servant, prayerful, humble in so many ways and always jolly even under pressure,” were the usual remarks heard among them.

For his part, Junia said Remonde was planning to host a party on Feb. 1 to mark his one year as press secretary, a belated birthday blowout (he turned 51 last Dec. 21) and Christmas party.

“He was to start the day with a mass at the nearest church, either San Miguel or St. Jude, and then treat the gang to a merienda cena at the grounds of the New Executive Building,” he said.

The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, an organization he headed for more than a decade, held during its private lunch meeting, a silent prayer on hearing of his death. (PND)

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