MANILA, Philippines–A “pure accident.”
Two weeks after an incident inside his office that left him wounded, former Cagayan de Oro City solon Benjo Benaldo dispelled rumors that he allegedly tried to take his own life.
“Let me state for the record that what happened in my office in the evening of June 27 which nearly took my life was a pure accident,” Benaldo said upon his discharge from the St. Luke’s Medical Center on Monday afternoon.
Reading from a four-page prepared statement, the former Cagayan de Oro congressman also cleared his wife, Daiana Menezes, in the incident.
Benaldo did not refer to the mishap, which left him with a gunshot wound on the left side of the chest, as a “shooting,” but called it a “near fatal incident.”
“I understand there had been speculations in some sectors that the cause of the near fatal incident in my office was the much publicized misunderstanding between me and my celebrity wife. Let me say that Daiana had nothing to do with it. She was not in my office at that time,” he added.
Benaldo was able to stand up from his wheelchair and speak from a podium at the hospital lobby, taking occasional sips of water.
Menezes was not with the former solon when he was discharged. Benaldo, clad in a dark blue long-sleeved button shirt and brown pants, was accompanied by his physician, Dr. Jose Oreta Jr.
However, Benaldo did not clarify as to why the incident was accidental, nor did he answer any more questions from reporters.
The solon said he planned to go home and rest upon the advice of Oreta, who said they advised Benaldo not to answer questions so as not to tire him.
“I thank my staff for their quick action and my doctors for doing everything to save my life. But I know that I owe my life today to no one but God alone,” he added.
Benaldo has been confined at the SLMC since June 27 after he was discovered inside his office at the House of Representatives with a gunshot wound in the left side of his chest.
The bullet hit the upper lobe of the solon’s left lung and several blood vessels, missing his heart.
In a medical bulletin issued two days after the incident, Benaldo was declared out of danger.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. even described him as being in good spirits and able to show a thumbs up sign as he was being transferred to the SLMC.
Earlier, the Quezon City Police District ruled out foul play in the incident although declining to comment if the shooting was an accident or a suicide attempt.
Reading from his prepared statement, Benaldo swore to continue his fight against overcharging electric firms – which was his advocacy as a councilor – even as he is now just a private citizen.
As to his defeat in the last elections, Benaldo said he had “so much evidence to show that the elections in Cagayan de Oro was clearly manipulated” against him “by some hidden and external forces.”