Senate tackles bill vs game-fixing

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Senate tackles bill vs game-fixing

MANILA, Philippines – A bill pushing for a law against game-fixing and also promoting professionalism in sports has been raised before the Senate Committee on Sports Wednesday.

The Senate Sports Committee discussed Senate Bills No. 40, 1560, 1641, 1855, 2100 and House Bill no. 4513, which has already been approved in third and final reading by the House of Representatives back in November 2022.

The committee hearing came after the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League reportedly announced that they flagged a total of 47 players and team officials due to game-fixing.

In a speech, Senate Committee on Sports chairman Sen. Bong Go said that it is "necessary to maintain and protect the integrity and sanctity of sports against dishonesty and corrupt practices such as game-fixing."

"Fans who put their hopes on an athlete or team to win believing in the spirit of fair play are cheated by scheming individuals who influence the games to produce a pre-determined result," he said.

"Game-fixing taints the spirit of Filipino sportsmanship. Those who are taking advantage of the passionate Filipinos in sports should be punished. Those victimized here are not just the viewers, but also the athletes that are playing honestly and the image of the Philippine sports," he added.

The proposed measure will push a law against game-fixing, which would give stiffer penalties against those involved in it.

It will also encourage witnesses to step forward, as Go underscored that without safeguards, witnesses may be afraid to come forward.

"We are also here to determine how these bills would promote the true spirit of fair play and athletic excellence, and to monitor the roles of agencies and organizations to ensure that we attain such objectives," he said.

For his part, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who proposed Senate Bill No. 1641, said that allegations of game fixing, point shaving and other gross sports machinations have already been reported various times in the past.

"[These] continue to hound the playing fields. Game fixing sucks up all the thrill, the fun and excitement from legitimate matches," Estrada said.

"[Sports] just boil down to moneymaking, and it is not a contest of skill, strength and teamwork anymore. Sometimes, it even results in heinous crimes," the legislator added, citing an instance of an attempted murder allegedly due to game-fixing.

According to the Games and Amusements Board on Wednesday, there have been 31 players who faced suspensions due to game fixing since 2021.

Go also cited a 2022 report of Sport Radar, a sports integrity firm, which stated that the Philippines had 37 matches deemed "suspicious."

"We ranked second in Asia behind China and above Thailand," the committee chair underscored.

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