Rolito Go kidnap has ‘semblance of truth’—De LimaBy Christine O. Avendaño, Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It looks like there is a “semblance of truth” to the claim of high-profile inmate Rolito Go that he was kidnapped last week by men inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who was quick to add that this has yet to be confirmed.
De Lima made the statement as she disclosed that she has also found cases of “hulidap” involving wives of inmates there.
Hulidap is a Filipino slang word coined from huli (arrest) and hold up. It is usually used to describe police who make illegal arrests then extort money from their victims in exchange for their freedom.
Based on evidence
De Lima conceded she initially did not want to believe Go’s abduction story.
“Based on the evidence, it looks like it has a semblance of truth but I’m not confirming it,” De Lima said.
The justice secretary told reporters she was meeting with National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Nonatus Rojas on Wednesday to get an update of its investigation of Go, who went missing with his nephew Clemence Yu on the night of Aug. 14.
NBI sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer their findings give credence to Go’s claim that he did not escape but was abducted by armed men.
“It was a case of abduction, but who took him we do not know yet,” the official privy to the investigation told the Inquirer on the condition that he would not be named for lack of clearance from his superiors.
“We have validated his statements and we say Go was abducted,” the official said.
De Lima earlier directed the NBI to investigate the disappearance of Go from the minimum security prison of the NBP in Muntinlupa.
The NBI source said the narration of Go and his nephew about how they were abducted from the minimum security prison compound and brought to a safehouse in Batangas had jibed. He also added that Go’s statement that they were released by their abductors and did not pay any ransom money also sticks.
The source clarified reports that Go’s abductors posed as NBI agents. “In the interview with Go, it showed that from the start he knew his abductors were not NBI agents and they also did not pose as agents,” the source said.
Go said he was kidnapped late afternoon on Tuesday last week by at least four men who allegedly asked for P50-million ransom. He was taken into police custody after he was supposedly released by his abductors the following day.
De Lima said she intended to call a “case conference” with the NBI, Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigative Detection Group and the Antikidnapping Group next week to compare notes on the Go case, including her own investigation of incidents of “hulidap” in the NBP.
“I was able to confirm in my three… successive days going to the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) during the weekend recorded cases of hulidap,” she said.
She said a possible scenario was there was indeed a syndicate operating at the NBP where the kidnappers were from the “outside” but they have “spotters” on the inside.
Victims so far were wives of inmates who were forcibly taken after they visited their husbands inside the NBP, De Lima said.
“The abductions did not happen inside the reservation but outside, after their visits,” she related.
But she said not all of the victims wanted to cooperate with authorities on their experience.
De Lima underscored the need to look deeper into these hulidap cases inside the NBP. She said she will tell Rojas to organize a “dedicated team of trusted NBI agents to dig deeper into it.”
Even if it was validated that Go and his nephew were abducted, De Lima said there was still a need to determine “whether they were victims of a hulidap syndicate or if there was another motive or another group involved.”
De Lima said she welcomed any Senate or House investigation into Go’s disappearance but in aid of legislation.
Go was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing student Eldon Maguan in 1991 over a traffic altercation.
He is scheduled to be released in June 2013.
While in prison, Go has undergone surgery for colon cancer.