THREE SECONDS OF RAGE MEANS LIFE IN PRISON
THE ROLITO GO CASE
“Sir, sorry to disturb you but I wish to seek an audience with you and seek your advice.” That was what an inmate whispered to me while conducting the rounds at the maximum wing of the national penitentiary. “Officer”, I motioned my security aide, “ get back at the fellow and escort him in my office after my rounds.” Nobody gets near me whenever I go into an inspection tour in the area but one inmate dared to cross my path, darted innocently as a matter of fact, enough to hear his plea if only in a fleeting manner.
Back in my office, standing by the door, was a lanky Chinese looking person, in regulation tangerine suit, eyes indicating sleeplessness, hair almost thin, head bowed and any pretension and air of accomplishment gone as he followed my gesture to enter the office. I asked him to be seated and he introduced himself. Of course, I know him, as I know a lot of prisoners included my high security risk file. He was charged for murder and given the verdict of life imprisonment for shooting to death a student. He is prisoner Rolito T. Go. The T there is Tambunting, a familiar sound when one is in dire need of a loan. The Tambunting Pawnshop comes to mind easily. Rolito is a grandchild of this Tambunting entrepreneur and he was quite uneasy for it.
“Good…morning…sir.” offered Rolito as I motioned for him to seat properly and face me. I waved at his escort guard to leave the prisoner so that there will be privacy in his consultation. “How are you?” I inquired. “Sir….I am already nearing my 15th year in this facility (to date, he has served almost 20 years already, good conduct time allowance included) and I just wanted to have a clean breast of it. I am only asking for a decent officer whom I can confess and I have unloaded the burden in my heart already. Pardon my intrusion and for disrupting your time. I am terribly sorry for what I have done and it has become a terrible lesson for me. It took three seconds off my rational thought and there it was, a person is killed. Now I am serving time for life. Its messy. I am terribly sorry.”
“How is it now Rolito? Have you expressed your apologies to the family of the victim? Granting that you are about to serve your time and you have never heard anything, like a response or reaction, from your accuser, have you made some efforts to reach out and perhaps express your regrets and act of contrition to them?” I inquired without out sounding like I am pontificating.
“I…am terribly confused and lost … sir…and could not get my proper bearing…sir…I do not know now what to think…” replied Rolito haltingly as if seeking for some clearer terms to describe how he feels at the moment.
“What is your purpose then, why see me, what do you want from my office?”
“Thank you sir for the time you gave me…I just wanted to confess without sounding foolish. Some may think that I have become sterile and insane if I will express my concerns to my fellow inmates and with your guards….sir…to be heard, to be listened to and to be understood is enough sir…and with that I have made my day already sir…I am really sorry it has come to this. If I could only turn back the clock of time.”
“Ok, then, if you want something formal from me, just write a note and I will answer it.”
Rolito Go in prison is a case study worthy for Asian Institute of Management (AIM) review. He was admitted in the summer of 2005, and he had only with him a small pillow and a dipper (tabo). We would later discover that his pillow was actually a small cloth bag where his shirt and shorts are folded neatly. He had nothing, no wallets, no secret pockets, no valuables, not even coins. Like ordinary prisoners, he came in without fanfare, without resources, subdued, totally submissive. After a month, he was a self proclaimed millionaire inside the penitentiary. How he did it requires a bit of sleuthing. He made money using procedural lapses in the flow of handicrafts from within the prison camp to the marketers outside. It was a simple math applied through the gates. A completed handicraft has a price tag. A certain percentage was to be levied on items passing through the access. Rolito bought a number of handicraft items but instructed the inmate-craftsmen not to apply the final touches, in other words, no varnish is to be used. There were no levies imposed on incomplete products.
And so, Rolito would buy out handicrafts and those at the receiving end will complete the final touches. Rolito was able to transact handicraft export business without having to experience taxation and in the process got his first million. He would repeat the same operation for almost a year until an impression would circulate that he was able to buy gangs and buildings where inmate craftsmen were conducting their handicraft production. Nice one. A clean way of earning and earning big. Until prison administration discovered the tact and a specific taxation system adopted. Rolito folded up after several years of handicraft business.
He was able to save in the process. He had accumulated funds and used it as capital to circulate and share it with prison officers through lending. Government workers were perceived to be poorly paid and that they were oftentimes victims of loan sharks. Rolito offered assistance, charging measly interest rates, as against the prevailing usurious rates, on money for various financing requirements. It clicked. He was like selling pancakes! And his name reverberated on the four corners of the prison agency. His tact is simple. He allows loan without collateral and if not paid will never extend loan to the creditor anymore. In a scale of 10, only 2 would renege on repayment, and having his returns from the 8 good payers, he gets his profits just the same. From said operation, he would be able to buy a building a few kilometres from the prison reservation, on a nearby town and would organize an office where his family and visitors could conduct also a loan business.
Rolito was a construction magnate before he got into a road rage charge. To his credit, his company was afforded the project to construct the national road of Palawan province, a slim island 400 kilometers from north to south. One among several road construction projects he would forge with government. He was a successful business man with a keen sense of making clean and unsoiled commercial venture mostly conducted with government. And he was moving very fast on the same lane where the Sys, Tans and Gokongweis were traversing to attain the status of big enterprise until three seconds caught up with him.