Supreme Court of the Philippines

Give lotto winner with damaged ticket his P12-M prize, SC orders PCSO

Jairo Bolledo

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Give lotto winner with damaged ticket his P12-M prize, SC orders PCSO

LOTTO. In this file photo, bettors wait for their turn in a lotto outlet in Paco, Manila on October 2, 2022.

Rappler

After nine years of legal battle, the lotto winner is a step closer to claiming his prize after the High Court rules in favor of him

MANILA, Philippines – After almost a decade, a lotto winner whose prize was not released due to a his partially burned ticket, is now a step closer to receiving the P12-million prize following a Supreme Court (SC) decision.

In a 17-page ruling made public this week, the SC ordered the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to give Antonio Mendoza his Lotto 6/42 jackpot winnings amounting to P12,391,600.00 after nine years of legal battle.

The High Court Second Division’s decision, penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, denied the petition for review on certiorari – a legal remedy used to review a decision of a lower court – filed by the PCSO. The PCSO asked the SC to set aside the Court of Appeals’ (CA) decision and resolution, which affirmed the Balayan, Batangas Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) decision that ordered the payment of Mendoza’s prize.

Almost nine years ago – on October 2, 2014 – Mendoza placed three bets for the Lotto 6/42 through lucky pick in an outlet in Batangas. A day later, he found out he won. The problem was his granddaughter crumpled his winning ticket.

In an attempt to straighten the ticket, Mendoza’s daughter ironed the ticket with a piece of cloth covering it. However, the ticket was blackened instead. The only remaining visible details were:

  • First two digits of the three bet combinations
  • The outlet from which the ticket was bought
  • Draw date
  • Date of purchase
  • Partially, the time the ticket was purchased

Mendoza, on October 5, 2014, went to the PCSO in Mandaluyong City, where he was told to submit a handwritten account of the incident. Two days later, Mendoza complied and submitted his affidavit to the PCSO’s legal department. However, on October 20, 2014, he was informed that he could not claim his prize because his damaged ticket could not be validated.

The lotto winner’s misfortune reached even the legislature. Mendoza became a subject of several hearings of the House committee on games and amusements, which then recommended that the prize should be awarded to the lotto winner. Mendoza reiterated his demand to the PCSO, but he was ignored.

This prompted him to resort to legal means and filed a complaint before the RTC against the PCSO. The lower court ruled in favor of Mendoza, saying the lotto winner was able to establish that he was the exclusive winner of the said lotto draw. The RTC also said resorting to secondary evidence was justified due to the damage to Mendoza’s ticket.

The case reached the CA, which also affirmed Mendoza’s victory. The appellate court said Mendoza was able to prove he was the only one who selected the winning combination on the October 2, 2014 6/42 Lotto draw.

The court’s ruling

In deciding in Mendoza’s case, the SC said the PCSO’s Amended Games and Rules and Regulations for the Lotto 6/42 (PCSO Rules) are ambiguous and can be perceived in at least two interpretations. According to the High Court, there is no reference to a “winning ticket” under article 1 of the PCSO rules.

The said rules – at most – only defined a ticket as “produced by a terminal confirming the selection made by the customer.” 

The High Court also explained that the circumstances surrounding the fact that Mendoza won the lotto were clearly established. Despite the RTC and CA’s characterization of Mendoza’s evidence as secondary, the SC said “secondary evidence may be resorted to when the original document is unavailable.”

In addition, the SC said the testimonial of Mendoza and of his relatives, “as substantiated by the PCSO records,” were admissible and given weight by the High Court. The court also raised the fact that “Mendoza entered a winning lotto bet and that the chosen numbers correspond to the winning lotto number.” – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.