by Ace Esmeralda
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.
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...