By Lito Rulona
REP. Jose Benjamin Benaldo of the city’s 1st District on Sunday continued to keep mum but his leader, Mayor Vicente Emano, made some attempts to make sense out of the congressman’s widely perceived “imeldific” lifestyle.
Emano said many of Benaldo’s clothes and accessories were fake and therefore, cheap, a pronouncement that raises a serious question on propriety. In effect, the mayor accused a member of Congress of breaking the law on intellectual property rights.
Emano also blamed politicians and accused them of being behind what he called a “well-orchestrated effort and well-funded move” to discredit Benaldo.
Emano did not identify the politicians he was referring to and neither did he support his allegations with any proof.
Emano told local radio the reports were “politically motivated.”
He said he and Benaldo met and the mayor told the congressman to “hang on.”
“This is a well-financed effort. This is pure [black] propaganda. Believe me, nay nagpaluyo niini. Paningkamot kini nga maguba gyud ang iyang pagkatawo unya mawala iyang higayon nga magpapili pag-usab pagka-kongresista,” said Emano.
“I am not defending him because he is with us but this is the truth. Mao kini ang kamatouran. This is a well-orchestrated effort and well-funded move (against Benaldo),” said Emano.
He said Benaldo has not been remiss in his work as congressman and has even carried out two to three infrastructure projects for every barangay in his district.
Emano said he expected more exposés in the coming days.
“We expect that. They started early. That means that they are going to push through with this until the elections. I told him ‘dili ka hunongan ani.’ I think more of this will be coming to destroy his chances of getting reelected,” said Emano.
Emano said Benaldo confided to him that some of his belongings were merely imitations bought abroad.
“Peke kanang uban niyang mga accessories, matud pa niya. Bisan gani diha sa kaulohan makapalit ka og peke nga mga accessories. Mga imitation kana. Lahi ang pagtan-aw sa tawo kung ang nagsul-ob congressman,” Emano said.
He did not say exactly which of the things Benaldo wears are genuine or fake.
The source earlier provided this paper photos of Benaldo partying and wearing allegedly high-priced clothes and accessories. The congressman, according to the source, has a collection of Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Hugo, Boss and Valentino, among others.
The source pointed to one of the photos which showed Benaldo allegedly with a P1.4-million Rolex watch, US$1,400-Hermes belt, US$400-Louis Vuitton cellphone pouch, US$300-Burberry shirt, US$200-jeans. Also included in the collection was a P40-thousand Ermenegildo Zegna suit and a P12-thousand necktie, according to the source.
The list of cars provided by a source showed a Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer, Ford Expedition Gold, Ford Explorer Sport Trac pickup, Kia Carnival, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Patrol, BMW X5 luxury crossover SUV, and a new Chevrolet SUV.
Emano earlier said he saw nothing wrong with Benaldo’s frequent travels abroad. He said it was his understanding that Benaldo used his own money for the travels, the last of which was with a 35-year old Russian blonde last June. A list provided to The Gold Star Daily earlier showed that Benaldo traveled abroad 11 times since he became congressman two years ago.
The source also said Benaldo flew to the US about a month after the Typhoon Sendong disaster.
Emano said Benaldo was with him at the height of the Typhoon Sendong disaster. He said this apparently in response to one of The Gold Star Daily stories that quoted a source as saying that there was reason to believe that the congressman was partying at the posh Republiq bar in Metro Manila in the evening of Dec. 16, 2011, the night “Sendong” struck.
But contrary to Emano’s claim, Benaldo was in Manila that night. He flew to Cagayan de Oro on Dec. 17, 2011.
Benaldo has repeatedly requested The Gold Star Daily not publish his comments.
His aide, Andrew Bascon, posted on Facebook that he and other staff members were fully behind the congressman whatever happens.
When this paper sought his comment, Bascon merely replied: “Pasagdi na sila.”
(Editor’s note: The Gold Star Daily started and has been running the series of investigative reports about the congressman’s lifestyle. The mayor is mistaken or is resorting to rhetorics and illusory ideas he cannot support. Whenever he is confronted with tough questions or runs out of answers, he always resorts to the overused “politically motivated” line without showing evidence, and he expects people to take his word as gospel truth.)