SC tells PCSO to pay P12M prize of lotto winner despite partially burned ticket

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — The Supreme Court has ordered the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to pay the ₱12-million prize of the Lotto 6/42 bettor who won in 2014 even if the ticket was partially burned. 

In a 17-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez released on Friday, the Supreme Court’s Second Division affirmed the previous decision that the PCSO must pay the respondent, Antonio Mendoza, the Lotto 6/42 jackpot prize of ₱12,391,600.

The high court denied the petition for review on certiorari filed by the PCSO seeking to dismiss the decision of both the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Balayan, Batangas, which ruled in favor of Mendoza.

The Supreme Court held that the “circumstances surrounding the fact that Mendoza bet in the eventual winning numbers of the lotto were clearly established.”

On Oct. 2, 2014, Mendoza won the Lotto 6/42 draw but his granddaughter crumpled the winning ticket. The bettor’s daughter tried to straighten the ticket by ironing it with a piece of cloth, but it got burned instead.

Still, information on the first two digits of the three bet combinations, the outlet from which the ticket was bought, the draw date, and the date and time of purchase remained visible.

Mendoza presented the partially defaced ticket to the PCSO. The agency asked him to submit a handwritten account of the incident, but after complying, he was told that he could not get the prize as the ticket had been damaged and could not be validated.

The Committee on Games and Amusements of the House of Representatives at the time recommended the lotto prize be given to Mendoza after conducting hearings on the matter.

The bettor demanded the PCSO to award the ₱12-million prize but he was ignored, prompting him to file a complaint before the RTC.

In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that both the RTC and the CA characterized the evidence presented by the respondent as secondary evidence, which the high court explained may be used when the original document is unavailable.

“In this case, while it is the numbers in the ticket that would prove whether Mendoza indeed won the jackpot lotto prize, it is actually the existence of the ticket that is being assailed by the sweepstakes office,” it said.

“Whether the ticket bearing the numbers of the lotto indeed existed is an issue that does not require the application of the Best Evidence Rule,” it added.

“The testimonial evidence of Mendoza and those of his relatives, as substantiated by the PCSO records, and surrounding the fact that Mendoza entered a winning lotto bet and that the chosen numbers correspond to the winning lotto number were rightly admissible and given weight,” the court also said.