MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - Press Secretary Cerge Remonde died Tuesday morning after suffering a major heart attack.
Doctors at the Makati Medical Center declared him dead at 11:51 a.m..
Remonde was found unconscious in his home Tuesday morning and was brought to the Makati Medical Center (MMC).
In an statement issued at around 1 p.m., Dr. Eric Nubla of the MMC said "Remonde was brought to the emergency department at Makati Medical Center at about 11:20 a.m. He was unconscious, not breathing, there was no heart beat."
"Attempts were made to resuscitate him. Despite heroic measures, he expired at 11:51 a.m. He was 51 years old," Nubla said.
Asked what the cause of death was, he said: "We cannot say that because no autopsy was made."
Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar earlier told dzMM that Remonde, suffered a "major heart incident" in his house in Bel-Air, Makati City.
He was found slumped and unconscious inside the bathroom.
Prayer in Facebook profile
Strangely, Remonde's last post on his Facebook profile was a prayer to be "released from fear and worry." The shoutout, which was posted at 6:51 p.m., reads as follows:
"Lord, thank You for the infinite love that meets our every need and provides all the beautiful and wonderful things we experience in life. Release our hearts and minds from fear and worry. Fill us with Your peace as we learn to fully trust in your providence. Help us to do all that we are capable of and the rest we entrust unto You. Amen."
Remonde's risk factors
Remonde's friend, cardiologist Dr. Anthony Leachon, told reporters that Remonde had "risk factors" such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and his age. He was also a smoker and was overweight.
"Medyo mataas ang kanyang risk factors. I would say, 8 out of 10 risk factors meron siya," he said in an interview aired over dzMM.
Leachon said he also attended to Remonde when the latter had "spine surgery" in 2007. Remonde was in the hospital for 2 weeks.
Leachon said early morning deaths are common for people with heart disease.
"Mataas po ang namamatay sa umaga dahil sa heart attack dahil nag kokonstrict yung arteries. Namatay siya habang naliligo. Ang cold temperature can cause constriction of the artery," he said.
Leachon said the 1 to 2 hour lag time from the time Remonde was found in the bathroom to the time he was brought to MMC at 11:20 a.m. was way too long.
"Ang brain po, dapat 5 minutes hanggang 20 minutes, dapat malagyan ka na ng oxygenation. Kung wala, hindi ka mabubuhay. Kung isang oras yun, imposible," he said. "Malaking oras ang nasayang from 9:30 a.m."
However, Leachon said Remonde was not yet "rigor mortis" when he was found, which means he was still "fresh."
"Ang golden period ay mga 5 minutes, siguro hanggang 30 minutes. Meron pa nga akong 40 minutes na nabuhay pa e. Pero kung 1 and a half hours, masyado pong matagal yon lalo na sa isang katulad niya na maraming risk factors," he said.
Leachon said he last checked on Remonde around 6 months ago when the press secretary showed him his laboratory tests.
According to Remonde's driver, Remonde was coughing since Monday. Leachon said a person with respiratory tract infection can "predispose a patient to his cardiac problem."
Remains at Heritage Memorial
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Remonde's remains, in the meantime, will be brought to the Heritage Memorial Park. He said it will be up to the wife and family of Remonde to say where the wake, funeral, and burial will be.
Ermita said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was out of town Tuesday morning, has been informed of Remonde's death.
He said Remonde's wife is being brought by private aircraft from Cebu, where the Remondes live, to Manila.
"For the moment, while we are awaiting the arrival of Mrs. Remonde, the remains tonight will be at Heritage," Ermita said.
Ermita said Remonde was found slumped in the bathroom. He was with his driver and two other persons in the house.
As press secretary, Ermita said Remonde had a "tough job." He said Remonde's passing was a "very big loss."
He said Remonde was a media personality who knew the trade well.
"He is a very, very close confidante of the president," Ermita also said.
Radio dzMM's Malacañang reporter Ruby Tayag said Remonde was scheduled to give a press briefing at the Palace at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
She said Remonde was in Cebu over the weekend for the Sinulog festival.
United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney expressed her condolences to the Remonde family. "My prayers for Cerge Remonde and his family. A very decent man who always had a kind word and a smile. A warm personality who always made time for others," she said in a post on her Facebook page.
Remonde was appointed press secretary on February 1, 2009. He was director-general of the Presidential Management Staff before he was moved to the Office of the Press Secretary.
After Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over from President Joseph Estrada in January 2001, Remonde was appointed press undersecretary in charge of broadcast media.
Remonde was also appointed by Mrs. Arroyo head of the Government Mass Media Group after she won a fresh six-year term in the 2004 presidential elections.
Remonde oversaw various government-owned media outfits such as NBN 4, RPN 9, IBC 13, Radyo ng Bayan, Philippine News Agency.
Remonde is from Argao, Cebu. He graduated magna cum laude at the University of Visayas in Cebu City.