MANILA, Philippines (7th UPDATE) – Outgoing Cagayan de Oro Rep Jose Benjamin “Benjo” Benaldo attempted to commit suicide in his office at the House of Representatives Thursday, June 27, House leaders said.
Benaldo is the husband of TV host-model Daiana Menezes, who recently became controversial when rumors of alleged domestic abuse circulated after Menezes posted pictures of herself wounded on Instagram.
According to the House public information office, Benaldo, drenched in blood, was seen at the South Lobby being carried out by men at around 7-8 pm. He was rushed to the nearby New Era Hospital then transferred to St Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City afterwards.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, initially told reporters in an interview outside the hospital that the cause of the incident had yet to be determined. Belmonte later on confirmed Benaldo tried to take his own life.
Belmonte said Benaldo was inside his office at the 5th floor of the South Wing of the Batasan complex when his staff members heard a bang. He was found wounded and alone on his chair when they entered his office, with a gun on top of his table. (Update: Police has ruled out foul play.)
“Whether it was accidental or not [we can’t say yet] but there is no question na siya lang ang nandoon,” said Belmonte. (There is no question that he was the only one there)
Benaldo sustained a “single wound in the heart going downward,” the Speaker said, but was in “good spirits” and was “very stable” by the time they arrived at the hospital.
Deputy Majority Leader Miro Quimbo, who went to New Era Hospital with Belmonte, said Benaldo even managed to crack jokes.
“Sabi ko sa kanya masama ka talagang damo at sabi nga niya, ‘Pareho tayo,” Quimbo said. Ibig sabihin nakakapagbiro siya and he looked okay. He was pale but he wasn’t ashen bagamat maraming dugo ang nawala sa kanya. ‘Yun lang puro biruan lang. Mahirap namang gawing seryoso ‘yung pagkakataon.”
Quimbo said Benaldo’s wife, Meneses, went straight to New Era. She rode the ambulance with her husband when he was transferred to St Luke’s.
Benaldo’s family is appealing for privacy so the outgoing representative “can sort out all the challenges that is facing him,” Quimbo said.
The revelations made by Menezes on social media spurred speculations that the couple’s church wedding plans would be aborted. On Twitter, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman extended the department’s help.
Benaldo later issued a statement that the wedding will push through, and acknowledged, without giving details, that they are like any couple who have conflicts at times. Both Benaldo and Menesez have been quiet about the issue.
Benaldo served as congressman of the Cagayan de Oro’s first district for only one term. Running for re-election under the Nacionalista Party banner in the midterm elections this year, he lost to Klarex Uy of the Liberal Party.