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17 persons face charges for game fixing

The pandemic affected the filing of the case. We are just maintaining a skeleton work force.

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Criminal charges are set to be filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) against 17 persons, including members of a basketball team, in connection with the alleged game-fixing during the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) in 2019.

Game-fixing, like point shaving and other machinations in sports contests, is punishable under Presidential Decree (PD) 483, as amended by PD 1602.

The Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) of the DoJ’s National Prosecution Service yesterday said the charges will be filed before the trial courts in Batangas and in the cities of Malolos, Angeles, Pasay, Pasig, Caloocan and Muntinlupa.

Facing charges are 12 members of the SOCCKSARGEN Marlins team, namely coach Ferdinand Melocoton for four counts of game-fixing; and basketball players Jake Diwa, 14 counts; Exequiel Biteng, 13 counts; Jerome Juanico, 14 counts; Matthew Bernabe, 12 counts; Julio Magbanua, 10 counts; Abraham Santos, 10 counts; John Patrick Rabe, seven counts; Ryan Regalado, nine counts; Janus Lozada, one count; Ricky Morillo, one count; and Joshua Alcober, one count.

Also to be charged with game-fixing are Quezon City Capitals coaching staff member Serafin Matias for seven counts; Sonny Uy, nine counts; and Chinese nationals only known as “Mr. Sung, Kein” for 14 counts and “Emma Meng” for one count.

The complaints involving 17 counts of betting and multiple counts of point shaving were dismissed “for insufficiency of evidence.”

Honey E. Delgado, OPG spokesperson, said Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Khristina Salumbides has released a resolution on the case dated 26 June 2020.

“The pandemic affected the filing of the case. We are just maintaining a skeleton work force,” Delgado explained.

She said Salumbides conducted the preliminary investigation of the complaint which was filed before the DoJ on 12 November 2019 by MPBL Commissioner Kenneth C. Duremdes on instructions of MPBL founder, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao.

Duremdes accused 21 respondents of multiple counts of betting, game-fixing, and points shaving in violation of PD 483 as amended by PD 1602.

Provisions of PD 1602 prescribe stiffer penalties on illegal gambling. It amended Philippine gambling laws such as Articles 195-199 of the Revised Penal Code (forms of gambling and betting), Republic Act 63 (horse racing bookies), PD 449 (cockfighting), PD 483 (game-fixing), PD 510 (slot machines) in relation to Opinion 33 and 97 of the Ministry of Justice, PD 1306 (jai-alai bookies) and other city and municipal ordinances or gambling all over the country.

Section 1 of PD 1602 provides “the penalty of prision correccional in its medium period of a fine ranging from P1,000 to P6,000, and in case of recidivism, the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period or a fine ranging from five thousand to P10,000 shall be imposed.”

The complaints involve 18 games the SOCCKSARGEN Marlins participated in from July to October 2019 when the game-fixing allegedly took place.

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