CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 June)— An alleged suicide letter was found on the desk of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Jose Benjamin “Benjo” Benaldo, City Vice Mayor Ian Acenas said here.
As this developed, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said that Benaldo may have attempted suicide after all.
“Yesterday evening, June 27, Cagayan de Oro Representative Jose Benjamin “Benjo” Benaldo was rushed by staff members to the New Era hospital, after being found bleeding in his office. He had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest, which now indicate he attempted to take his own life,” Belmonte said in a statement posted at the House of Representatives’ website at 12:09 pm. Friday.
Acenas said House investigators who searched Benaldo’s office immediately after the shooting incident found the alleged suicide letter and a bundle of P1,000-peso bills totaling P100,000 on his desk.
The vice mayor said the alleged suicide letter contained the words “please cremate for electoral change.”
“Meaning to say that the P1,000 bills were intended to pay for the cremation of his body. He might have thought he would die. It was his last plea,” Acenas said.
But Belmonte’s statement was silent on the alleged suicide letter of Benaldo, who had been transferred to the St. Luke’s hospital with his wife, Brazilian model-actress Daiana Meneses, on his side.
Belmonte said that Benaldo is now in stable condition and even gave him a “thumbs-up” sign when he and some colleagues visited him.
“Right now the incident continues to be thoroughly investigated and I hope that we all respect the privacy of the family at this time and avoid any other speculations. Benjo has not disclosed his reasons for what happened and may do so at the right time,” Belmonte said.
“What is important is that he is alive and in recovery which we all are grateful for, even as I have ordered a full report of the incident from House Sergeant-at-Arms General Nicasio Radovan who is also coordinating with the Quezon City Police Department,” the Speaker added.
Caught by surprise
Benaldo’s partymates in Padayon Pilipino said they were caught by surprise by the news that the congressman allegedly tried to end his life by shooting himself inside his office at the Batasan.
Former Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya said they have not seen Benaldo since the Commission on Elections declared that he lost his reelection bid to Liberal Party bet Rolando Uy in the last May elections.
Nacaya said they heard Benaldo went back to Manila to be with his wife, Daiana, who has numerous movie and TV engagements.
“He loves Daiana very much. If they have problems, it is very natural for a young couple like them,” Acenas said.
The vice mayor said the couple was “very sweet to each other” every time they saw them during the campaign period last elections.
Councilor President Elipe said it was too early to conclude if Benaldo did indeed attempted to commit suicide.
Elipe said that Benaldo “was no stranger to losing a wife or losing an election.”
“His first marriage ended in a disaster. He also lost in his first try in Congress. Losing a wife and elections were no strangers to him. I do not believe he committed suicide just for that,” Elipe said.
ABS-CBN had quoted Marikina 2nd District Rep. Miro Quimbo as saying that the gunshot wound of Benaldo was “self-inflicted.”
Quimbo also added that “there was no one else in the room during the incident.”
“Malubha yung injury. In fact kung dumerecho yung bala talagang tatamaan yung puso niya. Pumasok yung bala pero dahil mababa ang trajectory, lumusot siya sa likod. ( The injury was serious. In fact if the bullet went straight it would have hit his heart. The bullet entered but because it was on a downward trajectory, it exited in the back),” Quimbo said.
Police said a 9mm pistol was used in the incident, but did not say if it was really an attempted suicide.
Benaldo and his wife Daiana have hogged the headlines lately due to their marital problems. The Brazilian actress had accused Benaldo of physically abusing her.
She retracted her earlier twitter posts and went on TV with Benaldo that all is well between them.
Last week, she complained again and this time, threatened to leave Benaldo.
Benaldo and Daiana got married in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 2012. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)