SENATE probers on Thursday grilled Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) executives over controversies swirling around the agency, including the trustworthiness of its draw, especially a recent mega lotto draw that sparked rumors of a “favored winner” because it came after the PCSO plunked in an additional P500 million in the cash prize as part of a promotion.
Sen. Raffy Tulfo presided over the Games and Amusement Subcommittee hearing to discuss Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 253 or The Integrity and Trustworthiness of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Lotto Games, and SRN 466 or the Prize Fund Tax Remitted by the PCSO.
At Thursday’s hearing on January 25, 2024, Tulfo said the committee wanted to ferret out the truth on an issue that they said has been tarnishing the reputation of the PCSO. “We will tackle a very important and pressing issue that has been the main concern for a long time by many lotto players and that issue pertains to the integrity of the game,” Tulfo said.
The senator asked PCSO General Manager Melquiades Robles why the agency gave P500 million as additional cash prize in the lotto draw. In response, Robles said it was part of the PCSO marketing campaign to encourage more bettors and to boost revenue for charity.
Robles also repeatedly denied to the senators that any manipulation was taking place, saying their system made this impossible.
Tulfo in turn prodded Robles to use the additional funds they use to “sweeten the pot” in order to allot more funds for charity, adding the would check the PCSO charter on this.
Also at the hearing, Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III asked PCSO to submit a position paper on a resolution he filed on October 5, 2022 which seeks to determine and maintain the integrity and trustworthiness of the PCSO games amid allegations of controversies and irregularities.
Pimentel said he filed the resolution after the 6/55 draw announced a total of 433 winners on Oct 2, 2022 with multiple number of 9 wins.
“It’s really a relevant resolution. I want an explanation on how come there were 433 winners in that draw. Do you have a system to check the multiples of 9 betting system? If you have those systems to check it, can you prove it?” Pimentel, a mathematics major before taking up law and topping the Bar, asked. The minority leader said he also wanted to know the “distinct” number of bets that were placed in that October draw.
As for the recent mega lotto draw, senators said they were compelled to ask PCSO to explain amid persistent rumors and social media memes making it appear that the agency had manipulated the draw so that people it knows would win the over P600-million pot.