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PCSO draws flak over Swertres lotto 'glitch'

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) drew flak on social media over a "minor glitch" during a live draw Tuesday of its 3D (three-digit) Swertres Lotto game.

In a statement late Thursday afternoon, the PCSO confirmed that the issue arose during its 2 p.m. Feb. 27 draw after one of the draw machines "failed to capture one of the winning balls."

"It's not the first time that this happen[ed] and we want to assure the public that we are prepared for this kind of unexpected incident with our established ISO-approved protocols," said PCSO General Manager Mel Robles.

According to Mav Gonzales' 24 Oras report on Thursday, the initial winning combination was 1-9-7.

However, the lotto ball in the first of three draw machines dropped, prompting PCSO to implement what it described during the live program as "alternate procedures."

Members of the PCSO technical team were seen testing a new machine for the first digit.

After the live stream was halted for 15 minutes, a new machine was used to draw the first number again. The second and third digits were unchanged.

However, some social media users commented that the PCSO should have drawn all three numbers again.

Standby machine

Robles said the PCSO technical team "responded and fixed the problem" by using the "standby machine, which was approved based on ISO 9001:2015" Quality Management Systems procedures of the state firm.

The last time that PCSO experienced such a "minor glitch," Robles said, was in 2008 or about 25 years ago. The PCSO chief asserted that lottery machine issues have also occurred in the United States.

"For this thing to happen is very remote. But we are prepared and we assure the public that our commitment to a transparent, fair and authentic lottery games will never waver, and is as strong as ever," Robles said.

In a separate interview with GMA Integrated News, PCSO Assistant General Manager Arnel Casas said the incident was a result of a "machine malfunction" that was beyond the organization's control.

As for the clamor to draw all three numbers again instead of just one, Casas said such a move would not be possible.

"Once the draw machine already selected a number ball, that is already the official winning number. 'Di po 'yun puwedeng baguhin uli lalo na live po ito tapos nakita na po yun ng tao," he said.

(Once the draw machine has already selected a number ball, that is already the official winning number. We cannot change it especially since the program was live and the viewers had already seen the numbers.)

Senate probe eyed

Several senators had previously raised questions regarding PCSO operations, including the alleged frequent winnings of lotto games with huge amounts of jackpot prizes.

Senator Raffy Tulfo, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Games and Amusement, said he would order an investigation into the incident to determine whether it was a glitch or questionable action on the part of the PCSO.

For her part, Senator Imee Marcos, who earlier called for the temporary halting of PCSO draws, said she was stunned after watching the live stream video.

“Hangga't 'di naso-solve lahat 'yan, tigilan muna. Eh 'yung sinasabi nila na kailangan ibalik muna from start at ulitin. Mahirap 'yung nawawala tiwala ng tao. Dapat pakinggan natin. Wala namang problema dun. I-livestream na lang lahat," she said.

(The PCSO draws should stop while these issues remain unresolved. We should listen to feedback on conducting the draw from the start or repeating them. It's difficult if we are losing the trust of people.)

Meanwhile, the PCSO said there are lotto judges present during the lotto draws including representatives from the Commission on Audit, the 24 Oras report said. — VDV, GMA Integrated News