‘Lottong Macao’ nothing new

By Herbert Vego

IN local lingo, “lutong makaw” (derived from Macau Island, off the coast of Hong Kong) refers to a rigged decision resulting from a pre-arranged win or success. Its origin sprang from Macau chefs who prepared their ingredients well in advance, even before a dish was ordered.

Hence, the pun “lutong makaw” may be applied to dubious lotteries drawn by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), which is being investigated by the Senate.

A picture of an alleged lotto winner receiving her check from a PCSO employee was proven to have been photo-shopped from a shirt model with another woman’s “implanted masked face”. The woman had allegedly won P640 million in the January 16, 2024 Super Lotto 6/49 draw, which has 13,983, 816 number combinations.

Just one day later (Jan. 17), another “lone bettor” won P698 million in the Grand Lotto 6/55 draw, which has 28,989,675 combinations.

Eh di wow! That amount, take note, was ironically higher than the P571 million allegedly won by a lone winner of the Ultra Lotto 6/58 drawn on December 29, 2023. The Ultra, where a player must bet on six numbers from 1-58 is the hardest to hit, since it entails picking from 175,711,156 number combinations.

If it were possible for me to bet on all those millions of combinations at P20 per ticket, would I win? Ewan ko. Mahina ako sa math.

A lady blogger has named “Melyonaryo” as the PCSO insider behind the “manipulations”.

Also unbelievable was how 433 bettors won the Grand Lotto draw on October 1, 2022. But if that were true, since they had to split the P236 million prize, each must have received only around P545,000. So, does it not support the allegation that there really exists a high-level syndicate within the PCSO that rakes in the windfall?

We all have read of an unidentified isang kahig, isang tuka laborer winning the jackpot after betting on the birthday dates of his family members; or of a lumber salesman winning after relentlessly betting on the same six-number combination for years.

Hey, there was indeed such a lumber salesman — Carlito L. Mirando Jr. of Caragsacan, Dingsalan, Aurora – who claimed to have hit the 6/42 winning combination (15-22-23-24-34-36) on March 9, 1996.

It made headlines then, but it is worth retelling at this time because the claimant has never been paid the P120,163,123 jackpot.

As belatedly reported by news reporter Janet Rebusio Ducayag of the tabloid People’s Tonight on April 22, 1999, Mirando showed up at the PCSO office on March 18, 1996 or nine days after the draw date.  No less than then PCSO Chairman Manuel Morato met him at the reception room and got hold of his ticket, only to declare it a counterfeit. By then, the PCSO had declared that “a driver from Lipa City” had won the draw.

Refusing to be appeased, Mirando sought the help of Department of Justice (DOJ) State Prosecutor Teresita Domingo and Judge Luisito Cortez of the Municipal Trial Court of Plaridel, Bulacan. They arranged for Mirando to meet with Morato at Sulo Restaurant, Quezon City, with the end goal of settling the problem out of court. But Morato did not show up.

With the financial support of his employer, Mirando filed a case for damages and for payment of the P120-million prize against PCSO and Chairman Morato on September 1, 2000 before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.

One of the witnesses for the plaintiff, Edwin Alibuyog of the Philippine Gaming Management Corporation (then the exclusive supplier of lotto ticket-dispensing computers) vouched for the authenticity of Mirando’s ticket.

Surprisingly, when the court sought the ticket seller for her testimony, she could no longer be found at her post at ACT theater in Cubao, Quezon City.

Nevertheless, Alibuyog debunked the assertion of Morato that somebody other than Mirando had won the March 9, 1996 jackpot. Morato’s purported winner, a jeepney driver from Lipa City, could not have won because the outlet from where he had allegedly bought his ticket, Zenco Sales on Libertad St., Pasay City, started operating only on April 28, 1996 or more than six weeks after the March 9 draw.

While this case was pending in court, Carlito Mirando Jr. had to move from a friend’s house to another’s due to threats to his life. There was a time when a group of armed men came looking for him at his employer’s lumber store in Cabanatuan City,

The reporter of People’s Tonight who had exposed the Mirando case, Janet Ducayag, testified in court that Morato had warned him not to testify for Mirando. But when she did, unidentified men strafed her car while parking on Del Pan, Port Area, Manila. Fortunately, she was not inside.

Unfortunately for Mirando, the court dismissed his case on April 27, 2005, sustaining Morato’s claim that Mirando’s ticket was fake.

On March 30, 2006, Carlito L. Mirando, Jr. appealed before the Court of Appeals (CA), docketed as CA-GR CY No. 86399, assigning errors to the RTC’s decision.

Since then, however, no media network has reported whether CA has decided. Mirando himself has not been heard from.

Respondent Manuel Morato died on July 30, 2021 at age 87.