CONTRARY to a television report, UST did not forge a pact with other major universities in banning cell phones to prevent the further spread of student gambling, said UST Student Welfare Development Board director Cresencio Doma.

“We cannot simply ban cell phones in the campus,” Doma said. “It is significant as far as students’ security is concerned. Banning it is a form of deprivation on the students.”

Cell phones were apparently suspected as medium for the now rampant student gambling especially in private schools and universities, including UST.

Doma admitted the possibility of illegal betting inside UST on popular sports leagues like the National Basketball Association, Philippine Basketball Association, and University Athletic Association of the Philippines. But he said there is still no concrete evidence to prove it.

“The University does not have any official records that involve Thomasians in this thing yet, but we will do the necessary measures once it’s proven,” Doma said.

He added that National Bureau of Investigation offers witness protection program to students who want to share information on illegal betting inside the University.

The ABS-CBN News Channel previously reported that UST, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and other private schools have agreed to ban cell phones in schools during a meeting with Department of Justice acting secretary Ma. Merceditas Gutierez, as a response to the shooting incident between the sons of former senator Robert Jaworski and gasoline tycoon Tony Yap.

Ryan Jaworski, 30, was wounded in a shooting incident last June 23, which also involved his brother Ron, 18, and Anjelo Elton Yap, 14, both from Xavier School. Nobody admitted to firing the first shot.

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Yap allegedly owed Jaworski P4, 000 from the recently concluded NBA finals and both decided to meet each other to settle their disagreements.

According to DOJ statement given during the meeting, the gambling is run by “syndicates” who prey on school-age children.

The bets range from P10 to P20-million. There are also instances when valuable properties like cars are levied to pay for the losses incurred, according to the statement.

A UST student, who claims to be a mere observer, told the Varsitarian that students from any school can easily engage in betting through text.

“Maraming involved (sa gambling) from practically any school, basta may kontak ka sa text,” he said.

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