INTERNATIONAL boxing icon Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao on Tuesday confirmed that the whole SOCCSKSARGEN Team has been suspended due to allegations of “game-fixing and other related scheming activities.”
Pacquiao, who is the founder of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), explained that this decision to suspend a team in the MPBL is a difficult one for him but he and the MPBL management had to take drastic actions to protect the integrity of the league.
“This should serve as a serious reminder to all other teams in the MPBL that we are intolerant to any form of cheating and other unsportsmanlike behavior. We formed MPBL precisely to promote fair play in basketball so I don’t want to hear anything that would besmirch the name of the league,” Pacquiao said.
On hearing reports of game fixing in the MPBL, Pacquiao said that the MPBL sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe on this matter on hearing reports of game fixing in the MPBL.
The NBI has initially pinpointed SOCCSKSARGEN Team as the team that was involved in game-fixing but Pacquiao said the investigation is still on-going.
Pacquiao said that he would be taking over the management of the SOCCSKSARGEN Team to do some “house cleaning.”
He said that instead of dissolving the team, he would take over its management and only remove those who are involved in game-fixing activities and other illegal game capers.
Those who have nothing to do it will be spared, he added.
Pacquiao revealed that he is already in possession of the identities of the players and team officials and staff who are involved in cheating and would name them soon.
He said he would make sure that all those involved would be arrested and appropriate charges would be filed against them.
“Basketball is one of my passions and as the brainchild of the MPBL, I feel so sad to hear these reports of game-fixing,” he said.
Based on the instruction from Pacquiao, MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes has already given notice to SOCCSKSARGEN Team of its suspension from the MPBL.
“Pursuant to the MPBL’s serious drive against game-fixing and all other scheming activities related thereto, and MPBL’s serious thrust on clean and credible basketball, the league has requested the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate on game-fixing activities and other related scheming activities of your team wherein certain management personnel, coaching staff and players are involved,” Duremdes said in a memorandum to SOCCSKSARGEN Team sent last month.
“In view of this, MPBL suspends the whole SOCCSKSARGEN Team and hereby takes over the management of the team in order to give way to a thorough investigation on this matter. MPBL will thereafter pursue criminal charges against any person found to have participated in game-fixing and other scheming activities that have affected the results of the games,” the memorandum said.