Lotto winner slain by robbers

- Non Alquitran -
For millions of poor Filipinos, winning the lottery means instant better life.

But for an Antipolo City taxi driver who knew nothing but poverty all his life, winning the jackpot brought him not only sudden riches — but also death.

Arturo Eufemia, 58, was killed in his home yesterday by robbers just two weeks after his wife reportedly won a P19.6-million jackpot in the state-run lottery.

Seven masked men barged into his house in a subdivision in Antipolo at around 1 a.m. yesterday after the victim’s usual nightly drinking spree and shot him dead, Senior Police Officer Edwin Era said.

The suspects took off with the victim’s new Toyota Grandia van and an undetermined amount of money.

A neighbor, Rico Guatno, told reporters he heard the commotion and called the "117" police hotline for help but the responding officers arrived too late. The suspects had all fled.

Police sources said Eufemia’s wife, Leticia, 52, won the Oct. 12 draw of the Lotto 6/42 online game run by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). She took P5 million in cash and deposited the rest of the prize in a bank.

Apparently fearing they might get robbed, the Eufemias denied they won the lottery, claiming they made a great deal of money by selling hectares of idle land they owned.

An official from the PCSO’s central lotto operations, however, said a woman from Antipolo City’s Barangay San Roque drew the winning numbers — 13, 30, 19, 23, 25, 40 — and was the sole winner of the jackpot.

However, police and neighbors found the Eufemia’s claim of instant riches simply too good to be true.

Eufemia came from a poor family and was believed to be jobless when his wife won the lottery, Era said, adding that the victim even had shared part of the winnings with friends and neighbors.

Neighbors added that Eufemia had been hosting a drinking spree each night for the past two weeks since the lottery draw. "There was always a feast here everyday," a police officer said.

When he celebrated his 58th birthday just last Saturday, Eufemia ordered one roast calf and four roast pigs and partied with relatives, friends until early the following morning, they said.

The Eufemias recently bought a new Toyota Grandia van, which costs P1.3 million, and started renovation work on their house in Nazareneville subdivision, located in one of Antipolo’s poor areas. Eufemia hired at least 12 workers for the renovation, police said.

Police sources also said Eufemia also bought a caliber .45 semi-automatic, apparently to fend off would-be robbers.

His intuition was right. However, the robbers who did finally come for him that fateful morning were likewise armed and ready.

The victim’s wife, Leticia, said she noticed suspicious-looking men loitering outside their house Sunday morning, the day before her husband was killed.

Feeling nervous, she took her daughter Melanie and stayed with relatives at Camp Crame, the national police headquarters in Quezon City. Her husband and their son, Renan, were left to look after the house.

That evening, Eufemia, in his usual nightly routine, invited neighbors for a round of drinks in his backyard. The drinking ended past midnight.

Neighbors told police Eufemia went inside the house at about 1 a.m. while their helper, a certain Domingo, fixed up the place. When the helper went inside a few minutes later, he saw Eufemia being confronted by seven armed men.

Fearing for his safety, Domingo ran out back, jumped the wall and fled. Shots rang out minutes later. It was not immediately clear if Eufemia shot it out with the killers. Eufemia was found dead with a lone gunshot wound in the chest.

Eufemia’s son Renan, who was with his father the whole time, said he pleaded for his life and was spared. "They took pity because I was really shaking with fear," he said.

The gunmen then ransacked the house – apparently looking for Eufemia’s winnings – and fled aboard Eufemia’s new beige-colored Toyota van. Police are still trying to determine how much money was stolen.

Neighbors said they heard the gunfire and one of them, Guatno, called the police 117 hotline. Guatno said police might have been able to catch the robbers if the 117 operator had notified local police about the incident right away.

He said the 117 operator asked a lot of questions about the robbery. "The suspects had already fled and the police were still unconvinced that I was not a crank caller," he told reporters.

Superintendent Jose Dayco, Antipolo police chief, said he had already ordered a manhunt for the suspects. He said it’s possible that Eufemia’s friends or neighbors might know the suspects.

As a policy, the PCSO does not identify winners to protect them from robbers. Thousands of Filipinos regularly join the online lottery and long lines form at ticket booths as the jackpot grows.











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