Lifetime ban for game-fixing

(PHILSTAR) MANILA, Philippines — Heftier fines, longer jail times and perpetual bans in leagues are being eyed for unscrupulous persons who will engage in game-fixing.

These are the deterrents against game-fixers identified during the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Sports presided by Sen. Bong Go recently.

The panel is discussing five bills authored by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Raffy Tulfo, Mark Villar, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Lito Lapid seeking to increase the penalty for game-fixing.

“Fans who put their hopes on the team to win believing in fair play cheated by scheming individuals who influence the games to produce pre-determined results. I condemn this kind of fraud, not just in basketball,” said Go.

“It destroys public confidence in sports and tarnishes athletes. Game-fixing taints the spirit of Filipino sportsmanship. The person who takes advantage of the passion of Filipinos in sports should be held accountable…victims are not just spectators and athletes who are loyal to the game.”

Estrada said he filed the bill to make the punishment more severe for those involved in game-fixing.

“Longer jail time and a fine of up to P50 million. And accomplices in game-fixing should also be subject to perpetual disqualification from playing games,” he said.

The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) expressed support for the anti-game-fixing bills.

“We have resounding support for the proposed bills because Presidential Decree 483 enacted in 1973 provides the penalty of P1,000 to P10,000, it’s really not a deterrent,” GAB chairman Richard Clarin told the committee.

According to Clarin, millions of pesos in penalties and perpetual ban from the practice of the profession could deter athletes and others from engaging in such.

Go said data from Sports Radar and Sports Integrity Firm recorded 37 matches deemed “suspicious.” He said the Philippines is ranked seventh in all of Asia for sports enthusiasts and basketball aficionados.

Estrada, meanwhile, played compiled videos showing possible game-fixing, where a basketball player missed a simple free throw or layup.

“Game-fixing has been happening in sports for a long time,” said Tulfo.

The other day, MPBL founder and former senator Manny Pacquiao said the league has banned 47 players and officials suspected of being involved in game-fixing. The names were withheld.

The MPBL made the move ahead of its new season starting on March 16.