Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: No graft charges vs PCSO general manager Mel Robles

Rappler.com

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FACT CHECK: No graft charges vs PCSO general manager Mel Robles
Despite facing government scrutiny due to recent controversies within the state-run lottery firm, no graft charges have been filed against Robles

Claim: Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Melquiades “Mel” Robles will be imprisoned over graft and corruption charges.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the title of a YouTube video: “PCSO General Manager Mel Robles makukulong na sa kasong graft & corruption.” (PCSO General Manager Mel Robles will be imprisoned over a graft and corruption case).

As of writing, it has 34,474 views, 610 likes, and 163 comments.

The facts: No official announcements or reports from reputable sources show that Robles was convicted of graft or that he would be imprisoned. The misleading video merely alleges corruption within the PCSO after several major lotto draws produced winners of over P500 million over a three-week period.

Controversy in the PCSO: In January, the state-run lottery firm drew controversy after it posted an altered photo of a lotto winner receiving a check from a PCSO official. After the photo went viral, Robles admitted during a Senate committee hearing that the photo was edited, but clarified that it was to protect the winner’s identity.

The PCSO came under additional scrutiny when several multi-million prizes were won after it raised the minimum guaranteed jackpot for its Christmas and New Year draws. On December 29, 2023, a lone bettor won P571 million in the Ultra Lotto 6/58. Another big win came on January 16, 2024, when a bettor won P640 million in the Super Lotto 6/49 draw, followed by a P698 million win in the Grand Lotto 6/55 the following day. 

Surigao del Norte 1st District Representative Robert Ace Barbers called for Robles’ resignation due to the “highly improbable and doubtful winnings.” Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos called for a temporary suspension of the lotto games while investigations are pending. 

‘No manipulation’: On January 25, Robles told a Senate Games and Amusement committee hearing that no one can manipulate the PCSO’s system. 

May Cerelles, officer-in-charge manager of PCSO’s Information Technology Services department, added that the PCSO has an ISO-certified system that includes safeguards and Commission on Audit personnel present during lotto draws. Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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