MANILA (Updated 3:31 p.m.) -- Press Secretary Cerge Remonde died Tuesday morning from a heart attack, said Press Undersecretary Butch Junia quoting doctors at the Makati Medical Center.

Junia, in an interview over radio station dySS, said Remonde was found unconscious inside the bathroom of his house at Bel Air, Makati City.

CEBU. Press Secretary Cerge Remonde(right) joined last Saturday’s Sinulog solemn procession in Cebu City. (Sunnex)

Remonde was rushed to the Makati Medical Center where doctors tried to revive him. He was declared dead at 11:51 a.m.

Remonde was not responding to medications. He had no pulse rate and heartbeat when rushed to the hospital at past 10 a.m.

“Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was brought to the emergency department of Makati Medical Center at 11:20 a.m. He was unconscious, not breathing and his heart was not beating. Attempts were made to resuscitate him but despite heroic measures, he expired at 11:51,” read the official statement of the Makati Medical Center.

Anthony Leachon, the cardiologist of Remonde, said that the press secretary was already dead when he collapsed at home. “Cardiac arrest was the cause of death.”

Leachon added that the Palace official had several medical concerns such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

Remonde was scheduled to give a press briefing in Malacanang at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Junia also said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was is in the hospital and held a press conference with the Malacanang Press Corps.

According to Ermita, the wake will be at the Heritage Park in Taguig.

Remonde’s wife Marit will be flown to Manila from Cebu via private plane, said Ermita, adding that they will talk about the interment and other details later.

“Any assistance will be given to Remonde regarding the funeral, etc.,” said Ermita.

The 51-year-old Remonde was in Cebu during the weekend for the Sinulog Festival. It was his tradition to go home to his province to celebrate the feast of Sto. Nino.

In 2007, Remonde had an operation in the spine. Just recently, he had an intestinal flu, but still opted to work.

As Cabinet member

Remonde was among the few Cebuanos who was given the chance to join the Cabinet.

The first post he held as Cabinet member was press undersecretary. In 2004, he was appointed as director-general of the Presidential Management Staff.

Last February 2009, he was named by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as press secretary.

Before joining the government, Remonde was a media practitioner. He served as anchor of the highly rated dyLA Interaction, a primetime news and commentary program in Cebu. He also became the national chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). He was the first KBP chairman to be elected to six terms.

The press secretary grew up in Argao, Cebu and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the University of Visayas.

Senate reaction

The Senate leadership expressed its condolences over the passing of the seasoned broadcaster and Palace official.

Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri in a statement posted at the Senate website said he was “shocked and deeply moved” by Remonde's unexpected death.

“He is not just a personal friend but also a devoted public servant. He was one of the few Cabinet Secretaries who hails from the south, particularly from the province of Cebu. As I used to fondly call him, he was a member of the Cebuano Mafia,” Zubiri said.

“His untimely passing will leave an empty space in the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His previous performance will be very hard to duplicate by any replacement of the president,” he added.

Media reaction

Media organizations also expressed its sympathy for the “most media-savvy” press secretary of President Arroyo.

“Napakaganda ng relasyon ng National Press Club kay Secretary Remonde. He will treat you not as a media practitioner but as a friend, barkada. Makikita mo na open sya, di sya parang politician na full of hypocrisy," said Benjamin Antiporda, president of the National Press Club (NPC) in a radio interview.

Herman Bastaño, incumbent president of KBP, issued his “deep” mourning for a former colleague.

“KBP mourns with deep sorrow the demise of Secretary Remonde, who had distinguished himself as the only KBP chair who had served for six consecutive terms. His death is not only a big loss to the broadcast industry but to the country whom he has really served with utmost dedication."

Party-list group Akbayan meanwhile described Remonde as a man who knows how to stand for his convictions despite "harsh criticism and objections."

“That he stood up for convictions that more often than not clashed with our campaign for progressive reforms, he was a formidable adversary in the court of public opinion,” the group stated.

“We would like to extend our most heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences to his wife, Marit Stinus-Remonde, and their family, loved ones, and friends,” it added.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Remonde, a Danish national, arrived at the Aboitiz Hangar of the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City before 3 p.m. and immediately went to the Makati Medical Center to see her husband's remains. (JRF/VBL/Sunnex)