Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez has issued a new statement clearing up the viral video of him and media personality Ivana Alawi that has since entangled them in controversy.
On his Facebook page, Benitez stressed that he is "fully aware" of the footage where he was seen with the actress in an airport during his trip to Tokyo, Japan, and cried foul about how it did not "accurately explain" why he was in the country.
"I was there on a business trip as stated in my official travel order. Speculations involving Ms. Ivana Ivana are untrue and only serve to put malice into what was clearly a chance encounter," he stated.
He went on to express his apology to the actress and her family for being dragged into the issue concerning his private life.
"There is no truth to any and all the rumors spreading and I am setting the record straight to avoid further hurt and damage to them," Benitez stressed.
The politician's statement comes after Alawi issued a comment setting the record straight on her alleged affair with him.
"Hindi po ako ang nasasabing girlfriend ni Mayor Albee Albee. I met him when I had work in Bacolod. He was very accommodating and friendly. At hindi lang [siya] ang politikong nakilala ko at naging kaibigan," she wrote on Facebook.
The local star also updated the public on the status of her dating life, writing, "I am currently seeing someone who makes me happy. All I can say is that he is a respectable businessman and not a politician."
Benitez is also being linked to actress Angeli Khang, who is known for starring in several Vivamax films. However, she has yet to post a statement clarifying her involvement in the issue.
Aside from the alleged romances, speculations that Benitez has separated from his wife Dominique "Nikki" Lopez-Benitez are also circulating online. But the latter refuted the claims in a report by PEP, saying they have "been living under one roof for 31 years."
Their eldest son, Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel "Javi" Benitez, also seemingly responded to the issue with a cryptic post that read, "We're as shocked as everyone because this wasn't spoken about in private, but mom I want you to know that I thank you and love you for all that you have done for our family."
"We know how much you have sacrificed for me and Bettina. I am eternally grateful," he added.
Another post of his on his Instagram story that simply read "MONEY TALKS" on a black background also had social media users scratching their heads at its meaning.
Just in: Javi Albee posts “money talks.” Whom is he referring to? Is this connected to his dad being linked to a sexy actress? pic.twitter.com/robqUi8rBO— Auntie Selina (@auntieselinamo) February 9, 2024
Aside from his position as the mayor of Bacolod City, Albee also serves as the owner of Brightlight Productions, the film production company and talent agency behind shows such as Tropang LOL and Sunday Noontime Live.