(The Philippine Star) – April 20, 2021 – 12:00am
No less than former NCR Police Office deputy regional director for operations Brig. Gen. Florendo Campo Quibuyen will lead the GAB investigation of the Pilipinas VisMin Cup scandal in Alcantara, Cebu where the speculation is big money changed hands in an alleged widespread game-fixing shenanigan. GAB chairman Baham Mitra is moving decisively to get to the bottom of the mess and has ordered the suspension of the VisMin Cup’s Mindanao leg which was set to start in Dipolog City on May 20 with nine teams. Mitra said a final decision on whether or not to push through with the Mindanao leg will be made after a thorough probe of the Visayas leg which was marred by the farcical game between Siquijor and Lapu Lapu last week.
Mitra said he will also reach out to SBP president Al Panlilio in coordinating efforts to expose the stink. Under the GAB’s principle of self-regulation, the VisMin officials announced severe sanctions to ban Siquijor and suspend players from Lapu-Lapu. “We commend the swift action of the VisMin management,” said Mitra. “We have been in close coordination with them and support their decision. As to the players’ license revocation, while we respect the league rules, we will base our decision on reports from our own people on the ground and the move of VisMin but giving all parties concerned due process. As to the league, we are watching them closely and will issue reminders to them. We assure basketball fans and the public that we are on the ground and making sure the integrity of professional sports is upheld at all times.”
Mitra said he welcomes SBP’s involvement in the investigation. Although the VisMin Cup is a pro league, it still falls under the jurisdiction of the national basketball federation as even the PBA is represented in the SBP Board. It’s the same way with FIBA as the NBA is represented in the Central Board through deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. “Mr. Panlilio mentioned about SBP working with GAB so no problem, tulungan,” said Mitra. “I will also ask Mr. Panlilio about helping us out with the eligibility of players.”
Mitra said Gen. Quibuyen, former executive officer of the PNP Directorate of Research and Development, will be sent to Cebu late this week with staff of GAB’s anti-illegal gambling unit. Gen. Quibuyen, a member of the PNP Academy class of ’89, retired from the force last October and has joined GAB. “They will try to get to the root of the problem,” said Mitra. “We’re doing virtual meetings with informants. Gen. Quibuyen and staff will get their swab tests tomorrow (Wednesday) as a requirement to go to Cebu. The PNP Regional Director of Region 7 is Gen. Quibuyen’s classmate and they’re already moving there now. We also intend to tap the NBI.” The GAB investigators are expected to grill the players who participated in the scandal and make them spill the beans on who masterminded the apparent fix.
Mitra said the day after the game, VisMin officials and GAB representatives held a dialogue with coaches and players of both teams. “As expected, they didn’t admit to anything and denied game-fixing,” he said. A report said the Lapu-Lapu team was “remorseful but Siquijor didn’t seem to be sorry for what they did.” The inquiry led to the sanctions meted out by the VisMin authorities. Mitra said depending on what is uncovered, GAB may seek the assistance of other law enforcement agencies to ferret out who were behind the wrongdoing.