DOJ approves indictment of 17 persons in 2019 MPBL ‘game-fixing’

The Department of Justice has approved the criminal indictment for game-fixing against 17 individuals, including members of a basketball team, in connection with an alleged game-fixing during the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League in 2019.

The Office of the Prosecutor General of the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service on Friday said the game-fixing charges will be filed before the trial courts in Batangas and in the cities of Malolos, Angeles, Pasay, Pasig, Caloocan and Muntinlupa.

Presidential Decree No. 483 as amended by PD 1602 penalizes game-fixing like point shaving and other machinations in sports contests.

To be indicted include 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; and Janus Lozada, Ricky Morillo and Joshua Alcober, each with one count.

Also to be charged are the 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.”

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

“The pandemic affected the filing of the case, we are just maintaining a skeleton work force,” said Delgado, who added that Assistant State Prosecutor Salumbides conducted the preliminary investigation of the complaint which was filed before the DOJ on Nov. 12, 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 point shaving in violation of PD 483 as amended by PD 1602.

PD 1602 imposes 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 063 (Horse racing Bookies), PD 449 (Cockfighting), PD 483 (Game Fixing), PD 510 (Slot Machines) in relation to Opinion Nos. 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 that “the penalty of prison correccional in its medium period of a fine ranging from one thousand to six thousand pesos, and in case of recidivism, the penalty of prison mayor in its medium period or a fine ranging from five thousand to ten thousand pesos shall be imposed….”

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

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