POSTSCRIPT / October 16, 2018 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Mega-lotto bettors can gun for P35-B!

TWO bettors reportedly won Sunday the all-time high Lotto jackpot of P1,180,622,508 of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office — and the usual skeptics are asking if there was sleight of hand.

The whine sounds like the protests of losing politicos. In da Pilipins nobody loses an election, he is only cheated or out-Smartmaticked. Ask Bongbong Marcos who, after two years, still refuses to believe he had lost the vice presidency to Leni Robredo by a smile.

If a P1.18-billion jackpot is dizzying enough, think of the estimated $654-million top prize in the MegaMillions lottery in New Jersey (actually played jointly in several states) to be drawn at 11 p.m. EST, Tuesday (11 a.m. Wednesday, Manila time).

At the P54=$1 exchange rate, the MegaMillions jackpot amounts to P35.316 BILLION! We can talk about those billons later. Meantime hurry and ask your friends or relatives in the US of A to buy one or two tickets for you. It’s $2 per bet.

Back in Manila, the odds of winning the 6/58 Ultra Lotto jackpot of the PCSO is 1/40,475,358, which is higher than the improbability of my being a distant relative of Tatay DIgong. You can google the formula if you want to go into the mathematics of it.

Talking of Digong, Charlie Mike, @unlicomments, tweeted: “Si mayora at presidente daw nanalo?” He presumably saw pictures in media of the President and of Davao City Mayor Inday Sara buying tickets to promote people’s interest in the draw.

Tweeter KASHICHI, @arttgarcia1, added that if the Davao power duo won, “…Sakali mabuti pa Trillanes mabalatuhan.” (You can imagine the stiff-necked senator telling Duterte “Pirma ka muna!”)

Addressing the still unidentified winners, Ma’amSyj, @MaamSyj, exclaimed, “Yey! Congrats! Sana magdonate kayo sa mga opposition candidates kahit secret lang!” Even Lotto seems politicized?

 Lotto stories thru the years

THE FAT pot sent minds reeling back in time. Nag-file Na Ba Si Bong Go? (Ng Kuko), @paramour27, tweeted “…when then NBI Director Lim was investigating anomalies at PCSO, biglang siya yung tumama ng 5 million jackpot. Tapos ang investigation.”

I remember that Fred Lim, who was also once Manila police chief and later city mayor, won the PCSO sweepstakes jackpot because he prayed daw to the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

Which reminds me of a city councilor who religiously prayed before the crucified Christ for him to bag the jackpot, which he promised to share with the poor (tear here). After many dry months, he decided to ask the Lord why despite his fervent prayers and noble intention the money still eluded him.

The crucified Christ suddenly moved, really!, and growled: “Hoy, Quintos! If my legs were not nailed down, I would kick you! How can you win when you never bother to buy a sweepstakes ticket!”

The popping up of two jackpot winners, according to @MaamSyj, “Reminds me of those 100M-200M top prizes during Arroyo’s time na laging dalawa nanalo.”

Coming up with multiple winners is not new. Years ago when the pot also swelled, the PCSO spread the mayonnaise by producing one co-winner each for Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. That was even before there was a senator Nene Pimentel pushing the idea of decentralization.

When noted on Twitter that, as we had feared, there was an extra winner, Alecks Puerta, @alecks_puerta, asked: “The draw is being televised LIVE, paano kaya nila manipulate ang winner?”

Javier Gris, @JavierGris_, chimed in: “Sa Amerika kasi ipinakita ang nanalo ng winning ticket sa TV. Kaya medyo mahirap talaga mandaya dun. Dito.…”

jed q cepe, @jedqcepe, warned: “Given how advanced is technology today, & how ‘genius’ people’s minds have become, & how really untrustworthy is the govt we have today, in lotto everything is possible. It’s a glimmer of hope for many, but still, it remains a glimmer that makes people stuck in their dreams.”

• Preventing insertion of fake winners

NOW I remember my “Pinoy55” brod Vic Gambito of Cebu who once offered to rewrite for free the PCSO software running the Lotto draw. His idea was simple:

At the close of the betting, a master record/file of the data is saved, copied and brought to the TV station. Right after the numbers are publicly drawn, a search is made live on-camera for all winning bets and the stations where they were placed. Their being announced during the show will help prevent insertion of fake winners.

Gambling and speculative quick-profit scams flourish, because the poor who are at least half of the population feel they have been left with nothing but dasal or sugal (praying and gambling) for deliverance.

When one is poor and unschooled, his options for competitive survival are minimal in these times when jobs/opportunities are scarce and credit tight for first-time micro- enterprises.

Filipino Freethinker, @RedTani, noted: “No matter how impossible the odds, the Lotto will always be popular in our country. Just a few years ago 16 million gamblers bet that all crime could be ended in 3 to 6 months.”

Dom!n!cTheme, @DominicTheme, said: “That raises the question on who audits the PCSO and how the process is done. Unlike in the US, winners (and where the tickets were bought) are published, hence there is transparency.”

Don’t answer that one. President Duterte already said that he does not want the Commission on Audit poring over government transactions looking for red signs of hanky-panky. After his outburst, the independent COA fell quiet – a bad sign for good government.

The fact that Lotto jackpot winners in the Philippines, unlike in the US, hide their faces, identity and location, with the PCSO agreeing to the secrecy, shows how insecure people with money can be.

Lotto winners suddenly find themselves swamped by a tsunami of friends and relatives, most of them expecting some “balato.” They also run the risk of being robbed or kidnapped or something worse.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 16, 2018)

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