By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

(Photo courtesy of PCSO)

MANILA – The owner of a damaged winning lotto ticket that has been the subject of a recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling can look forward to claiming his prize soon after the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) pledged to expedite its release.

In a meeting on Wednesday, PCSO general manager Mel Robles assured lotto winner Antonio Mendoza that the winnings would be turned over to him once the documentary and other processes have been completed.

“I assured him that I will expedite the process of his claim. Kailangan lang may certificate of finality from SC (There has to be a certificate of finality from the Supreme Court). I will make sure that he enjoys the fruits of his winnings ASAP. I wanted to put a closure on this issue,” Robles said in a statement.

The high court, in a 17-page ruling released on Sept. 30, ordered the PCSO to release Mendoza’s winnings amounting to PHP12,391,600.

To recall, Mendoza, on Oct. 2, 2014, placed three lucky pick bets for the Lotto 6/42 in an outlet in Batangas.

He later found out that he won, but his granddaughter had crumpled the winning ticket.

To save the ticket, Mendoza’s daughter ironed it with a piece of fabric covering it.

However, this resulted in partially burning the ticket, erasing some details required by the PCSO to award the prize.

On Oct. 5, 2014, Mendoza went to the PCSO Main Office in Mandaluyong City where he submitted a handwritten account of the incident to the legal department.

But because the damaged ticket could not be validated, Mendoza was told by the PCSO on Oct. 20, 2014 that he could not claim the prize.

This was based on the PCSO’s prevailing conditions on claiming/payment of winnings.

This prompted him to seek relief from the SC and after nine years of legal battle, the high court ruled that the circumstances surrounding the fact that Mendoza won the lottery were clearly established and that the testimonies of Mendoza and his family were admissible.

Thus, the PCSO is set to release Mendoza’s winnings immediately once necessary processes are finished.

It is also ordered to pay the legal interest of 6 percent per annum from the date of finality of the decision. (PNA)