Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap early on Thursday was proclaimed as the next governor of Bohol after garnering more votes over top opponent former Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. in what was the most tightly contested gubernatorial race in the past decade.
After four days of canvassing, the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) released the final election results which showed that Yap garnered 326,895 votes and that Evasco got 324,734 votes.
The tight gubernatorial poll, which could have gone either way in favor of one of the candidates, was marred by delays in the transmission of election returns due to defective SD (secure data) cards which have plagued the entire polls nationwide.
A total of eight defective SD cards from Bohol which were earlier transported to Cebu for reconfiguration were returned to their respective precincts in Tubigon, Ubay and Panglao on Wednesday.
Ballots were then fed again to the vote counting machines of the eight precincts before election returns from each of the three municipalities were transmitted to the BPOC.
Municipal Boards of Canvassers have been directed to transmit results to the BPOC only if all of the election returns from all of their respective precincts were already accounted for.
Only the gubernatorial race was affected by defective SD cards among elections for the top provincial government posts as it was the only close battle.
Outgoing governor Edgar Chatto and outgoing first district Rep. Rene Relampagos who won in landslide victories over their opponents were proclaimed as first district congressman and vice governor, respectively, on Wednesday.
Board Member Alexie Tutor who decisively won in her bid for the third district congressional seat and reelectionsist second district Rep. Erico Aris Aumentado were proclaimed on Tuesday.
Prior to Yap’s proclamation, his camp raised concern over the delays which made the ballots or SD cards vulnerable to tampering.
“The people have spoken. I have won this election. All that needs to be done is to finish the count of the eight remaining clustered precincts,” Yap said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
Yap was already ahead by over 6,000 votes in the Comelec transparency server and by 3000 votes in the BPOC tally before votes from the eight precincts started to be canvassed.
“We are tabulating your will. Do not allow others to steal your vote and your voice by tampering with your sacred ballots,” Yap said.
On Tuesday, Evasco said that his camp will be filing a petition for failure of elections, alleging that the polls were marred by “massive” vote buying.
Provincial Comelec Atty. Eddie Aba said that it was within Evasco’s rights to file the petition but noted that it would be up to the polling body’s head office to decide whether or not it will be approved.
“Iya ng katungod. Hatagan na og due course, ato ng sutahon kung unsa man g’yud ang resulta ana,” Abba said.
Hoever, Aba said that there has been no instance before wherein a failure of elections was declared in Bohol.
“Wala koy mahinumduman na dunay nasinati na action bahin sa mga ingon ini,” he added.
According to Yap, there was no failure of elections in Bohol as majority of the electorate was able to exercise their right to suffrage.
“People came out in record numbers to manifest their will so we must not frustrate their choice. Filing a petition to have the elections declared a failure is but a strategy to delay my proclamation and subvert the people’s choice,” Yap said.