The Philippines’ first and only industry magazine that deals with safety and security matters pervading the environment today.

Rolito Go: Lost and Found

Rolito Go, one of the most well-known convicts in the country, has returned to police custody after he was reported missing last Tuesday evening. He has claimed to have been kidnapped from the area of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City but was eventually released by alleged abductors.

In a press conference yesterday, Go narrated how he was taken from detention. He recounted that four armed men, who identified themselves as agents from the National Bureau of Investigation, forcibly took him and Clemence Yu, his nephew and personal nurse, in an area immediately outside NBP. At that time, the two were on their way back to Bilibid from church, which is just outside the penitentiary.

Go told the media that he and his nephew were taken to a safe house in Batangas. There, his captors were said to have demanded a million pesos in ransom. But he said that they were eventually released by their captors after realizing that no ransom will be paid.

He further said they were given money for fare and they took a bus to Alabang in Muntinlupa. They went into the custody of the anti-kidnapping task force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by 11 p.m. Wednesday.

PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome showed Go’s wounds to the media which were said to have been sustained from his captors. Go has laceration wounds in his arm and a concussion in his head.

Who is Rolito Go?

Go, then a construction businessman, shot Eldon Maguan, an engineering student on July 2, 1991 following a traffic altercation in San Juan. Go surrendered to the police 6 days later.

He was sentenced to a 40-year jail term after being found guilty of murder by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court. But days before he would face the verdict, he escaped from his cell on November 1, 1993. He became a fugitive for years, until the authorities rearrested him on April 30,1996 at a piggery in Pampanga.

He sent a petition to the Supreme Court (SC) in 1999 to reverse or modify the verdict of the Pasig court, but the SC denied his petition. He has also appealed several times for parole but has been denied by the government.

He was held in the maximum security compound of the NBP and was only transferred to minimum security in 2009 after a required number of years in prison.

It was revealed sometime in 2011 that he was suffering from colon cancer.

He became a “living-out” inmate and received privileges, which include a cottage near the NBP main building, being permitted to seek treatment outside the prison once in a while, and being able to walk around the prison without escorts but required to report back to the minimum security compound by 5 p.m. It was also reported that he usually leaves prison compound without proper authorization.

Yesterday, Go has publicly appealed to the family of Eldon Maguan to have mercy on him. The Maguans, however, said in media interviews that they find it hard to believe the story that Go was kidnapped.

Probe to Follow

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda bared that President Ninoy Aquino III has ordered an in-depth, multi-agency probe in Go’s escape.

Lacierda also said that the President has accepted Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gaudencio Pangilinan’s offer to go on an indefinite leave pending the probe’s results.

“In the meantime, the New Bilibid Prison will be under the direct supervision of the Secretary of Justice, pending the appointment of an Officer-in-Charge,” Lacierda noted.

Complicated Case

SecurityMatters sources said that it was very likely that Go and his nephew were really kidnapped in the premises of New Bilibid Prison. Go and his nephew, upon PNP custody, underwent physical check-up and revealed signs of struggles which were not likely to have been self-inflicted. The two also had undergone polygraph testing and were found to be telling the truth.

Sources also said that trace of kidnappers went cold and that the PNP is left only with the initial traces of evidence from the car and testimonies. The kidnappers contacted Go’s family where their demand was given but was not consummated.

A source also said that it was likely that the kidnappers released Go and his nephew when their disappearance were reported to media, and the kidnappers realized that it was “too hot” as multiple agencies were looking for Go.

There are also some other angles on the case like a possible demolition job against BuCor director Pangilinan. It was reported that prison guards can be bribed, for an inmate to have a temporary leave from prison compounds. Pangilinan is said to have gained enemies following changes in BuCor which include the selection and training of the guards in BuCor facilities.

Go’s abduction is also being linked to politics.

Bilibid’s Need for More Security

Rolly Rulloda of Ace And Associates Risk Management Inc. explained that the recent incident revealed lapses in the security of New Bilibid Prison. A Certified Security Professional (CSP), he said: “Bilibid needs security assessment and there is a need to improve the physical security of Bilibid compound.”

Rulloda told SecurityMatters in an interview that “CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras only cover limited areas in the prison.” Areas immediately outside the prison, including the area where Go and his nephew were abducted, are not covered by CCTV. He added that a prison should have a 10km security ring that should surround the facility. Security should be layered to include areas outside the prison, he said.

The curious case of losing and finding Rolito Go has returned the high-profile convict into the headlines. At the same time, it has raised questions on the state of security of Bilibid.

Go, who has been considered as one of the most sensational convicts in the country, is to complete his prison term and is set to be released by next year. But if the formal investigation of claimed kidnapping proves otherwise, his chances of getting his freedom back might be in jeopardy.