MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Rolito Go, convicted road rage killer, has been ordered released by the Supreme Court.
The order of release was sent to Bureau of Corrections Director in Muntinlupa and indicated it is immediately executory – meaning, Go can be released today, Friday, December 16.
“You are hereby ordered to immediately release Rolito T. Go unless there are other causes for which he should be further detained, and to return this Order with the certificate of your proceedings within 5 days from notice hereof,” the order given by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr said.
The Supreme Court had promulgated the resolution last November 28 denying a petition opposing Go’s release, but released the order only on December 16.
Go was convicted of murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. He began serving his 40-year sentence on April 30, 1996, at the New Bilibid Prison.
On July 30, 2008, Go was granted by the New Bilibid Classification Board a “colonist status” which commuted his sentence. The Board carried out the resolution and certificate of eligibility issued by then Bureau of Corrections director Oscar C. Calderon.
In 2011, Go revealed he was suffering from colon cancer. That same year, he showed The Philippine Daily Inquirer his cottage near the Bilibid main building, a privilege he got as a “living out” inmate. He also said prison authorities allowed him to exit the penitentiary once in a while for treatment.
ABS-CBN News, however, exposed Go’s alleged attempt to leave Bilibid without a permit in June 2011. Go reportedly claimed he was going to the hospital for treatment, but couldn’t present any permit.
In August 2012, Go eventually disappeared – abducted, if his sister is to be believed. But the chief of the New Bilibid Prison then, Supt Richard Schwarzkopf Jr, told dzBB that Go was considered an “escapee”.
On January 30, 2014, Go filed a petition for habeas corpus pleading for his release. He argued that his original prison sentence that was to expire on January 31, 2022 should have instead expired on August 21, 2013.
Go cited lawful and proper allowances for good conduct, his colonist status, and preventive imprisonment as bases for his plea. Petitioners opposing his plea maintained that his sentence neither had expired nor was commuted, because only the President has the power to commute a sentence.
Go’s petition was granted by a Muntinlupa regional trial court which issued a writ of habeas corpus and found that Go’s sentence was validly commuted from reclusion perpetua to 30 years.
In its resolution, the Supreme Court’s Third Division said the trial court was correct when it said that while it is true that the president may commute the sentence of a prisoner, Articles 70 and 90 of the Revised Penal Code recognize partial reduction or commutation of sentences. The Director of Prisons is also given the power to grant good conduct allowances.
Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code is “clear and unambiguous,” the resolution said. The law says that once such allowances are granted they “shall not be revoked.”
Go shot in the head Eldon Maguan, then a 25-year-old engineering student, in 1991. Go entered Wilson – a one-way street – in the opposite direction. He went against the traffic and nearly bumped Maguan’s vehicle, sparking one of the Philippines’ most sensational road rage incidents. – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com