Defeated gubernatorial candidate Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, Jr. disputed the election returns of all the clustered precincts of Tubigon, Panglao, Sagbayan, Sikatuna, Guindulman, and Candijay.
Arthur C. Yap, who will take his oath as the new governor of Bohol today, June 30, 2019 won the hotly contested election by a slim margin of 2,161 votes garnering 326,895 votes against Evasco’s 324,734 votes.
In a seven-page election protest signed by Sherlito M. Columnas, Jr., petitioner, dated May 27, 2019, Evasco petitioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to declare him as the lawful winner as governor and declare the proclamation of Yap as governor “irregular, unlawful and null and void.”
According to the Comelec website, results of the six towns based on the certificate of canvass (COC), Yap won by a margin of 1,910 with total votes of 44,832 against Evasco’s 42,922.
Candijay, Guindulman, Sikatuna and Tubigon went for Yap while Panglao and Sagbayan voted for Evasco.
Yap walloped Evasco in Guindulman by a wide difference of 4,329 votes but Evasco gained the upper hand in Sagbayan by 2,807 votes. It was close in Sikatuna and Tubigon with Yap edging Evascoby a mere 513 and 154 votes, respectively.
Panglao and Candijay gave Evasco a gap of 1,458 and 1,179 votes, respectively.
Evasco requested for a manual recount of all votes of the six contested municipalities and is willing to deposit his share of the amount to cover the expenses incurred for the recounting of the votes.
Citing massive vote buying, electoral fraud, unreliability, and irregularity of the procedure of counting of votes and transmission of election results, Evasco filed a seven-page election protest before the Commission on Elections “to assail and impugn” the results of the six towns during the May 13, 2019 Bohol gubernatorial elections.
Evasco told the Comelec that in Tubigon, the vote counting machine (VCM) in Barangay Tinangnan Elementary School malfunctioned and failed to restart twice even after the secure digital (SD) card was removed and reinserted. A spare VCM from the municipal COMELEC office was also found defective.
Evasco emphasized in his protest that the SD card replacement from Cebu City was brought in by a Comelec staff without the presence of a watcher.
While waiting for the SD card from Cebu City, ballots used by the voters were placed in a separate unsecured receptacle and ballots that were fed to the VCM machines after the arrival of the SD card was done in secrecy.
In the other five contested towns, Evasco claimed that at the start of the voting at 6 a.m., five of the VCMs failed to initialize prompting the watchers to demand manual voting but was denied by the Election Board.
Evasco also claimed that none of the members of the election board nor any of the poll watchers were able to verify if the receipt referred to as the voter verified paper audit trail reflected the results cast by the voters.
Evasco also petitioned the Comelec to order Yap to cease and desist from assuming the office of Governor during the pendency of the case. (Chito M. Visarra)