Rolito Go, Went Out, Gone Back

The Kidnapping Angle

In July 1991, Mr Rolito Go, blinded by very bad mood, entered a one-way street in upscale Greenhills and found himself blocked by another car driven by a young engineering graduate. In a fit of rage, Mr Go, fresh from a fight with his girlfriend, vented his negative emotions toward the driver of the other car, Eldon Maguan.

Go’s murder case has been more of an emotion-driven one at a time when texting was not even a fad yet. Go, a Chinese businessman, shooting point-blank a young person, became a rallying point by several crusaders then and until now.

Rolito Go went to face the consequences of his action with efforts to escape. He fled after the road rage but was identified by a snappy security guard. Go surrendered after six days.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment on murder charges after two years of trial. In 1993, he escaped from prison and hid from authorities for three years. Once captured, he was sent to the maximum security facility at the National Bilibid Prison.

Media coverage plunged him to the limelight from time to time, from the crime scene to his trial and recapture. He became a high-profile person, which worked to his disadvantage. Justice is not vengeance and personal transformation is received with cynicism in this only Christian country in Asia. His name became synonymous to road rage that involves shooting another driver. He became a victim of being stereotyped.

 Lives Out, Went Out

In March 2009, Rolito Go was qualified to be transferred to the minimum security facility of NBP. He stays in a nipa hut near a church. He was given a live-out status that allows him to walk around the prison compound without security escorts. Just like other live-out inmates, he is required to report to the minimum security facility every 5 p.m. for accounting.

When I visited Rolito Go in his live-out hut in early 2011 for a story on Philippine Prisons, Prisoners and Reformed Lives for SecurityMatters, I met a sharp and calm person. He was interested in the magazine and on the topic. While waiting to be accommodated, I scanned the environment of his daytime abode which is just beside the main road out of the NBP fortress. I saw several plastic bottles of medicines and supplements on top of his shelves.

There is a bamboo fence around to keep stray dogs out. The gates are welcoming to anyone. He can be visited. He also can simply take a ride on a pedicab or a SUV if he wants to.  He doesn’t need a blast and daring rescue like those who recently escaped the jails of Maguindanao and Basilan.

Anyone can also fetch him for daylong joy ride around Metro Manila or for a refreshing spa. Anyone includes wardens, family, friends, or kidnappers.

He doesn’t live his day behind bars except probably when the mass media or some parties throw him back into the limelight.

 Gone Missing: The Kidnapping Story

The kidnapping tale is very difficult for most people to understand especially if their perception and understanding of kidnapping and escape from prisons came mostly from news, TV shows, or Hollywood movies. I understand the emotional reaction of the Maguans and the general public if they quickly jump to conclusions based on stereotyped notions and prejudices. I understand, in fact, expecting the natural reactions from the Bureau of Corrections, which is in a Catch-22 position. Whether it’s a kidnap or an escape case, it still involves an inmate gone missing.

My Take.

From my perspective then as company commander of an army unit of Task Force Kutawato in the mid-90s, my fellow TFK officers and I classify the potential kidnap-for-ransom victims into “kidnapable” and ransomable”.  Almost everyone, including live-out inmates, is kidnapable but only a few are ransomable.  Rolito Go is both kidnapable and ransomable.

The kidnappers of Rolito Go know that getting ransom money could be quick and easy. But they failed to factor in their plans that their victim was suffering from colon ailment and carries a colostomy bag.

I watched Go narrate his story in a PNP press conference. I believe him, for now. When Director General Bartolome’s stated that the police “deal with facts”, the more I believed the kidnapping story. Granting his kidnapping story is a scripted alibi, we should get acting lessons from Go and his nephew.

Why would Go stage his escape when he is due for release next year? He knows very well the implications of another escape to his records.

Could he been “escaping” time to time and it was only this time someone squealed?

Why would he bring another person into his caper? He is intelligent and caring enough not to get his nephew, who is also his caregiver and nurse, into trouble.  Getting another person to corroborate a scripted event poses the risk of being found lying under intense cross-examination by a seasoned interrogator. The NBI and other agencies will definitely interview the prison chaplain, his sister, his wife, dozens of other inmates.

Why would he script such story when he knows that it is difficult for a prostitute to cry rape? Why go to the extent of inflicting wounds upon himself and his nephew for a short freedom–to be with his sister or to gamble in Resorts World? The tales woven by others are more illogical than Go’s kidnapping story.

The police may soon reveal that the struggle or defensive wounds of Go and his nephew are not self-inflicted and that both passed the polygraph test as telling the truth. I hope that no one will say that they passed the polygraph because Go is a criminal and therefore an expert liar.

Could the kidnappers assumed that asking a measly ransom of P1M assures quick release and that Go could be accounted for before 5 p.m.? Several tingi-tingi kidnappings have been happening in North Luzon since last year. Fast, quick, efficient, these kidnappings go unreported by victims and victims’ families for obvious reasons.

Could Go’s kidnappers have thought that no one will believe the kidnapping story of fugitive Rolito Go and his family anyway? They probably did not consider that many government agencies would be just eager to recapture a high-profile fugitive.

From the looks of available information, it seems the alleged four kidnappers of Go are bad actors since even Go suspected them immediately. They are also amateurs in terms of planning and execution. I believe that they are not really for the money but for the media impact on the missing high profile inmate.

NBI’s Role, De Lima’s Dilemma

Some people said that the National Bureau of Investigation might not be the independent body to investigate the case since suspected kidnappers were allegedly NBI agents. More so that the NBI, like the BuCor, is under the Justice Department and the Justice Secretary is now the OIC of BuCor. I believe that the new NBI Director will not risk whitewashing or covering up in case there are scalawag NBI agents involved. Secretary De Lima will side with the truth while she ponders on the political implications of this incident.

 Casualties, Victims

Rolito Go, his nephew, and their families are the victims in this kidnapping case. The knee-jerk reactions of the BuCor will cost other live-out inmates their little privileges.

The other victims in the latest episode in the life of Rolito Go are not only the three jail officers but also the head of the Bureau of Corrections himself. Whether this episode is a staged cover story for an escape or real kidnapping, Director Pangilinan finds himself a victim of a demolition job.  After several attempts to get his throat because of the reforms he instituted inside the BuCor, this case is the biggest mud thrown at him so far.  The kidnappers, or say, the abductors of Rolito Go were successful in their mission.

With the multi-agencies investigating the escape of Rolito Go, let’s hope that truth will not be another victim and that justice will not escape those who deserve it.