PRESS Secretary Cerge Remonde had long been advised by his doctor to stop smoking because of his heart problem.
Josephine Cabardo, Remonde’s cousin who served as his secretary when he was station manager of dyLA, said they all knew that Remonde had a heart problem.
Remonde was appointed dyLA station manager in the late 1980s up to 1992 when he ran for congressman for Cebu City north district but lost to Rep. Raul Del Mar. He returned as dyLA station station in 1994 until 2001 when he was appointed to the Cabinet by President Gloria Macagapal-Arroyo.
Cabardo recalled that in the 1990s, Remonde was told by Dr. Raul Alcarez, Association Labor Union-Trade Union Philippines national vice president for health services, to stop smoking because of his heart problem.
That was during his stint as manager of dyLA, Cabardo said.
There was a time when his wife Marit offered to buy him a new car provided he would stop smoking.
But during the family reunion in Argao town on Christmas Day, he was seen smoking, Cabardo said.
“We thought nga he stopped smoking. But last Christmas, we saw him smoking. Maybe, smoking made him happy. Everybody was warning him that it was not good to smoke,” Cabardo said in Cebuano.
Dr. Anthony Leachon, the press secretary’s personal physician, said in an interview on government-run Radyo ng Bayan (dzRB) posted in www.gmanews.tv that Remonde underwent a surgical spine operation in 2007.
Leachon said he began to closely monitor Remonde’s health condition during the holidays.
Remonde had been suffering from diabetes and hypertension prior to his death, said Leachon. Remonde’s cigarette-smoking habit also affected his health, he added.
“Medyo mataas ang kaniyang risk factors. Eight out of 10 ang kaniyang risk factors (His risk factor was high. His risk factor was eight out of 10),” Leachon told dzBB.