LEADING by some 11,200 votes after midnight, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama seemed ready to hand Rep. Tomas Osmeña his first loss in an election.
The partial but official canvass, with 87 percent of election returns received, showed the reelectionist mayor ahead of his former ally and most vocal critic.
Rama’s running mate Edgardo Labella was also ahead by some 5,600 votes over incumbent Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young, after 514 out of 592 election returns (ERs) were canvassed.
And that was not the only surprise in the results so far.
In Talisay City, businessman JVR de los Reyes held a razor-thin lead (191 votes) over Rep. Eduardo Gullas for Talisay City mayor, with 57 percent of election returns received in an unofficial, partial count.
For second district congressman, Provincial Board Member Wilfredo Caminero led by some 3,000 votes over Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia.
Garcia’s son, One Cebu gubernatorial candidate Rep. Pablo John Garcia, was behind Liberal Party (LP) candidate Hilario Davide III by at least 132,962 votes based on the partial, unofficial tally, with 54 percent of all ERs factored in.
Pablo John’s sister, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, was ahead by nearly 2,000 votes in the third district’s congressional elections, where she ran against Pinamungajan Mayor Geraldine Yapha.
As of press time, their votes were: Garcia (56,412) and Yapha (54,465), based on the results sent to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Transparency Server and made available by the social news site Rappler.
The swift release of results followed a day marked by suggestions to shorten the time voters have to wait, before they can cast their ballot. Defective scanning machines provoked the most common complaint.
But the Commission on Elections (Comelec) 7 said that of the more than 5,800 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines deployed in Central Visayas, only 215 bogged down—at least 134 of them in Cebu.
For most voters, larger clusters meant a very long wait. But within an hour after the precincts closed at 7 p.m., the attention shifted to the results that poured in swiftly in both the Senate and local elections.
In Cebu City, the congressional races in both districts appear headed Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan’s (BOPK) way.
Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa earned 103,410 votes while lawyer Aristotle Batuhan had 84,184 in the partial, official count for the south district.
In the north, former congressman Raul del Mar is poised to return to the House of Representatives with 119,297 votes. His closest rival, Annabelle Rama, earned 32,755 votes.
So far, the top eight candidates for councilor in the north district are: Nestor Archival, Mary Ann de los Santos, Alvin Arcilla, Sisinio Andales, Lea Japson, Alvin Dizon, Nida Cabrera and Jerry Guardo.
The top eight candidates in the south district are: Margarita Osmeña, Gerardo Carillo, Eugenio Gabuya, Dave Tumulak, Roberto Cabarrubias, James Cuenco, Hans Abella and Richard Osmeña.
In a press conference at the Election Media Center in the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, Comelec 7 Director Temie Lambino said the figure was understandable. There were 84,000 PCOS machines that had to be prepared in only a few months.
“Because it was rushed, some of them were not properly fixed,” Lambino said.
He encouraged voters to scrutinize the reasons behind some problems experienced in the 2013 election.
“I suggest that the budget for the 2016 election be released one year before. What happened in the 2013 election was that there was a budget proposal from Comelec, followed by a brouhaha in Congress, followed by a budget cut, and finally the delayed release of the budget,” Lambino said.
Despite the PCOS problems, he said Cebu City was on track to proclaim winners this morning, and that some winners in the Province may be proclaimed in the afternoon.
He expects the voter turnout to exceed 70 percent.
Lambino also had some advice for those who lose in the elections.
“Although they have ten days to file a protest from the day their opponents are proclaimed, they (election losers) have to accept defeat and not blame the Comelec, the PNP and the military for their defeat. Remember James Bond who said he would live to fight another day,” Lambino said.
He said the technical glitches were all taken care of immediately to prevent further delays in yesterday’s election. Apart from the problems with the machines, Lambino said he did not receive any report on major incidents in the polling precincts.
“This has become very efficient for all of us because the public was very cooperative and aware of what they should do or not do,” said Lambino.
He said the efficient handling of the polls in most areas is due to their continuous information campaign and voter education in the past months.
“This only proves that the civil society can do so much,” he added.
When asked about the vote-buying incidents received by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in different areas in the region, Lambino said the PNP will act as complainant against the alleged vote-buyers.
“Vote-buying is a serious offense. One thing we want to find out is who is behind this, and it entails a lot of verification,” he said.
The PRO 7 under Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo said at least eight cases of vote-buying were recorded, with 12 persons arrested.
More than 100 persons were arrested for violating the liquor ban, 11 for shooting and strafing incidents, and nine persons arrested for violating the gun ban in the entire election period so far.
In the Cebu City Central School, a voter was caught allegedly trying to vote using the name of his father. He was invited to the Cebu City election office.
Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde said he was held until a complaint is filed against him.
The Cebu City Board of Canvassers, which Gujilde chairs, convened at noon yesterday to check the materials for the Consolidation and Canvassing System.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)–Team Rama and LP–BOPK lawyers witnessed the initialization or the checking of materials for canvassing, including the laptop and printer, among others.
By 7 p.m., the Board of Canvassers reconvened for the initialization of the system to ensure that “there is nothing there prior to transmission.”