NBI arrests Orbeta in entrapment operation

3 08 2007

PAOLO Orbeta, the hot shooting guard of the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, was caught red-handed by the operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after an entrapment operation last August 1.

He was arrested with three others due to alleged illegal gambling and game fixing, according to the statement of the NBI.

The arrest of Orbeta and his cohorts proves the existence of game-fixing and illegal gambling, the bane of collegiate sports, according to the NBI.

Orbeta, 23, and James Ryan Mangaran, 24, a schoolmate of Orbeta; Rajan Chandumal, 31, a salesman; and Aaron Raemon Elago, 24, a police inspector detailed at the PNP-PPSC Camp Crame were presented to the media by the NBI yesterday after a sting operation prompted by a complaint filed by Wilfred Uy.

The four were arrested after receiving the marked money at Ate Em¢s Eatery near St. Benilde Wednesday afternoon where the payment was scheduled to take place.

Henry Atayde, the Saint Benilde athletic director, said Orbeta was allegedly involved in an “individual betting,” citing a statement released by the NBI.

Orbeta was alleged to have received marked gambling money from La Salle student Wilfred Uy, the complainant.

Based on investigations conducted by the NBI’s Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division, Orbeta and Guingon approached Uy sometime last March and asked him for a loan of P300,000 so they could cover gambling debts over the results of NBA games.

Uy initially declined but was offered a land title in the name of Guingon’s uncle, who was unidentified, to cover the loan. Uy eventually agreed and lent P310, 000 to the suspects.

Uy alleged Orbeta told him they could pay the amount if Uy bets on an NCAA game where Orbeta would play.

Uy agreed and placed a bet of P1 million with a banker, who later turned out to be Chandumal.

Under their agreement, Orbeta would score less than 11 points, assuring Uy would win the so-called “player’s odd” game. To further sweeten the deal, Orbeta also placed a bet of P130, 000.

The deal fell through, however, when Orbeta scored 11 points in St. Benilde’s 54-60 loss to the San Sebastian College Stags last July 18.

Chandumal insisted that Uy lost the bet and demanded payment, but Uy refused after receiving information he was duped by Orbeta and his cohorts.

Uy said Orbeta and his group later threatened him and even brought along a policeman, later identified as Elago, to “enforce” payment.

Uy agreed to pay but then sought the help of the NBI, which set up the entrapment. In coordination with Manila police operatives, the NBI-AFCCD agents arrested the four suspects after they had received marked money from Uy.

“Since last year, we were into these investigations. But this time, there’s a complainant so this is a breakthrough in our effort to clean the sport of illegal acts such as this,” said supervising agent Palmer Mallari.

Mallari said previous allegations of game-fixing were difficult to solve because transactions were usually made through text messaging and there was no complainant.

NBI Director Nestor Mantaring said the arrest of Orbeta and his group “will serve as a warning to athletes and basketball fans not to engage in this kind of activity.

At presstime, Orbeta remained under the custody of the NBI.

In a statement, Atayde said: “We’re going to investigate the matter and we will cooperate with whatever government agency is handling this matter. If we have to skip tomorrow’s game (today), we will do so to avoid any suspicion.”

Paul Supan, the athletic director of host Jose Rizal University , also issued a statement: “The NCAA will verify this report first and for sure, we will take appropriate action. But at the moment, we reserve the right to comment until reports are submitted to us.”

CSB coach Caloy Garcia said, “I cannot comment right now.”

Charges of violation of PD 1602 (Illegal Gambling) and Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as Robbery with Violence Against or Intimidation of Persons, have been filed by the NBI against Orbeta and the three others, along with a fifth suspect, a certain Luigi Guingon who is at-large.

Orbeta, playing in his fifth season as a Blazer in the NCAA, has played seven games so far and averaged 10.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. The 5-foot-10 playmaker also played for Welcoat in the Philippine Basketball League.

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