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Politician could face charges after he shoots himself in parliament (and survives)

Police said the Philippine politician shot himself in parliament, where firearms are banned, with a pistol whose permit had expired.

Benjo Banaldo (right) with his wife
Benjo Banaldo (right) with his wife
Image: Screengrab via TheABSCBNNews

POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING an outgoing Philippine politician after he shot himself in parliament, a spokesman said today, in a mystery that has puzzled the nation.

Benjo Benaldo is being probed after shooting himself in Congress, where firearms are banned, with a pistol whose permit had expired, said national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Sindac.

“He could face charges… but let us take it one step at a time,” Sindac said, adding that the police were exploring all angles.

Police said Benaldo was alone in his office late on Thursday when he shot himself in the chest, narrowly missing his heart. His 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol was recovered at the scene.

The legislator was rushed to hospital where he is still admitted but out of danger, according to the latest news reports.

Firearms are banned from Congress and Benaldo’s permit to carry the pistol had expired in March last year, said Sindac.

He said legislators were not searched or required to pass through a metal detector when they enter parliament, making it easy for a congressman to bring in a gun.

Benaldo is due to step down at the end of June after losing his re-election bid to an ally of President Benigno Aquino in mid-term elections last month.

He has also been in the news in recent weeks over troubles with his wife, a popular Brazilian model and showbiz personality.

Since the incident, the local press and social media have carried unverified accounts of suicide notes and speculation on whether the legislator shot himself because he failed to win a seat or due to marital problems.

Sindac urged the public not to speculate, saying the shooting could have been an accident or a suicide attempt.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Benaldo was stable and in “good spirits” despite his injury, according to media reports on Friday.

- © AFP, 2013

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