Speaker: Benaldo shot himself

MANILA, Philippines - To quell further speculations, Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr on Friday, June 28, confirmed that outgoing Cagayan de Oro Rep Jose Benjamin "Benjo" Benaldo attempted to kill himself Thursday evening. 

In a statement, Belmonte said Benaldo sustained a gun shot wound to the chest "which now indicates he attempted to take his own life."

The Quezon City police has ruled out foul play. Belmonte said he is awaiting the full report of the incident from House Sergeant-at-Arms General Nicasio Radovan. 

After hearing a loud bang, Benaldo's staff members went to his room and found him slumped in his chair, drenched in blood, with a 9mm gun on his table.  Belmonte, who responded immediately, earlier said Benaldo was alone when the incident happened.

Benaldo is now in stable condition at the St Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City, where he was transferred after being rushed to New Era hospital.  "He personally assured me he was alright and gave a 'thumbs up' sign to me to this effect," Belmonte said. 

Respect privacy

Belmonte appealed to the public to respect the privacy of Benaldo and his family at the moment. 

"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," he said. "Benjo has not disclosed his reasons for what happened and may do so at the right time."

The Speaker added: "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."

Benaldo recently became controversial when rumors of alleged domestic abuse circulated after his wife, TV host-model Daiana Menezes posted pictures of her wounded arm on Instagram. 

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 run into problems.

Benaldo served only for one term as congressman of Cagayan de Oro's first district. He ran for re-election under the Nacionalista Party in the May midterm elections this year but lost to Klarex Uy of the Liberal Party. Benaldo and his staff were in the process of clearing out his office when the incident happened. - Rappler.com