PCSO ordered to pay P12 million Lotto jackpot to man with damaged ticket
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to give the more than P12 million prize to a man whose jackpot winning ticket was damaged by a flat iron.
In a 17-page decision, the SC’s second division, through Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, denied the petition for review filed by PCSO, which seeks to reverse the Court of Appeals decision. The Court of Appeals’ ruling affirmed the Batangas Regional Trial Court’s decision favoring the lotto jackpot winner.
On October 2, 2014, the man placed three bets for the Lotto 6/42 draw using the lucky pick method. The following day, he learned that he got all the six digits. However, his granddaughter inadvertently crumpled the winning ticket, prompting his daughter to flatten it with a flat iron protected by a cloth. However, the process partially damaged the ticket, making few details discernible, such as the first two digits of the three bet combinations, the purchase location, draw and purchase dates, and the time of purchase.
He presented the ticket to the PCSO in Mandaluyong City on October 5, 2014. He was instructed to provide a handwritten account of the incident. However, after submitting his affidavit to the legal department, PCSO told him that the ticket could no longer be validated; thus, he could not claim the prize.
His situation became the subject of several hearings at the House of Representatives, which recommended that the prize be given to him. He made demands to PCSO but was ignored, prompting him to file a case with the RTC of Batangas, who ruled in his favor. PCSO elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, but they also lost, prompting the filing of a petition with the SC.
In agreeing with the Court of Appeals, the SC said the PCSO Amended Games and Rules and Regulations for Lotto 6/42 had ambiguous provisions, open to two interpretations.
Under its rules, tickets with all six selected numbers corresponding to the official winning numbers shall be classified as Category 1 prizes. While the PCSO emphasized the need for complete physical tickets for prize money disbursement, the House Committee on Games viewed the selection of the winning number combination as the primary condition precedent.
The SC said PCSO rules did not reference a “winning ticket” but only defined “ticket” as that produced by a terminal to confirm the selection of number by the customer.
“Stated otherwise, the ticket is only proof of the fact that the bettor selected the winning combination of numbers,” the SC said.
Besides, the SC said the bettor has established, based on secondary evidence, that he managed to bet on the winning numbers.
“The testimonial of the [winning bettor] and his relatives, substantiated by records of sweepstakes office itself, surrounding the fact that he entered a lotto bet and that the chosen numbers correspond to the winning lotto number, were rightly admissible and given weight,” the SC said.
To be exact, the SC said the PCSO should pay the bettor P12,391,600.00 jackpot prize. The amount shall earn legal interest of six percent per annum from the date of finality of the decision until fully paid.