DOJ finds probable cause vs. 17 individuals in MPBL game-fixing issue

The Department of Justice was able to find probable cause versus 17 individuals involved in alleged game-fixing during the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup in 2019.

A finding of probable cause means the DOJ will file an information in court charging the accused.

In a resolution, the DOJ said that probable cause was seen for game fixing under Sec. 1(a) of P.D. No. 1602 in relation to P.D. No. 483 against the following individuals:

1. A certain Mr. Sung (14 counts);

2. Sonny Uy (9);

3. Serafin Matias, Jr. (7);

4. Ferdinand Melocoton (4);

5. Jake Diwa (14);

6. Exequiel Biteng (13);

7. Jerome Juanico (14);

8. Matthew Bernabe (12);

9. Abraham Santos (10);

10. Ricky Morillo (1);

11. John Patric Rabe (7);

12. Ryan Regalado (9);

13. Julio Magbandua, Jr. (10);

14. Janus Lozada (1);

15. Joshua Alcober (1);

16. Kein a.k.a. Kein Zhu (3), and;

17. Emma a.k.a. Emma Meng (1)

Alcober was among the Siquijor Mystics players expelled on Thursday by the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup due to alleged game-fixing.

On the other hand, 17 counts of betting and point shaving were dismissed for lack of evidence, according to the DOJ. Cases filed against Kevin Espinosa, EJ Avila, Nino Dionisio, and Nice Ilagan were also scrapped for insufficiency of evidence.

According to PD 1602, guilty individuals shall be meted a "penalty of prision correccional in its medium period of a fine ranging from one thousand to six thousand pesos, and in case of recidivism, the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period or a fine ranging from five thousand to ten thousand pesos."

In November 2019, MPBL founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao filed a case against several players and officials of the Soccsksargen Marlins team for alleged game-fixing, betting on games, and point shaving. Game fixing is punishable by law, per Presidential Decree 483, and strengthened by P.D. 1602.

The Marlins, who were renamed the Sarangani Marlins, languished at the bottom of the Lakan Cup after sporting a 1-29 record.