TWENTY-ONE hours after the precincts closed in this year’s elections, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was proclaimed the winner, making him the first politician to defeat Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) since the latter entered politics in 1988.
Rama earned 217,448 votes while Osmeña garnered 211,072.
“Thank you for giving me another opportunity to serve the people of the City of Cebu.
Thank you for giving me a fresh and a new mandate,” Rama said after his proclamation at 4 p.m. yesterday in the Cebu City Hall.
But the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to proclaim a vice mayor and three city councilors, because defective compact flash cards kept three precincts from counting and sending their results.
These three precincts have 2,952 voters combined.
Cebu City Councilor Edgardo Labella of Team Rama leads Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) by only 371 votes. The latest tally shows Labella with 202,255 votes and Young with 201,884.
Commenting on the results, Osmeña said: “I am not conceding considering the numbers that are coming out. The people know what happened. I know a lot of money has been going around. But I know I’m not going to end up a winner. I don’t want to be called a sour loser.”
He said he plans to go to the barangays to thank the public.
Mayor Rama, for his part, vowed to continue the programs and projects he has planned for the city since he first assumed as mayor last June 30, 2010.
BOPK candidates were also proclaimed winners in both congressional districts: Raul del Mar in the north and Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa in the south.
Former congressman Del Mar earned 134,180 votes in the north district, while talent manager Anabelle Rama of Team Rama got 35,842, or a difference of 98,338.
In an official statement, Congressman-elect Del Mar said the results validate his programs and legislative proposals.
“Yet it also raises a new and higher standard and bigger challenge—to address with fresh vigor the problems that come with my district’s urban growth,” he said.
“To the voters who have trusted the Del Mar brand of public service all these years, daghan kaayong salamat (thank you so much),” he said.
Abellanosa, on the other hand, earned a total of 124,937 votes in the south district, while Atty. Aristotle Batuhan of Team Rama earned 99,968, or a difference of 24,969 votes.
The Board of Canvassers decided not to proclaim a vice mayor just yet, because the contest is too close to call, said board chairperson Atty. Ferdinand Gujilde.
The 2,952 votes that have yet to be canvassed could make a difference in the elections for vice mayor and three of the seats in the City Council.
The three precincts that reported defective compact flash cards are Precinct 474 in Barangay Mambaling (997 voters), Precinct 49 of Barangay Cambinocot (972 voters) and Precinct 150 in Barangay Luz (983 voters).
As of yesterday, the canvassers proclaimed only the top seven candidates in the north district and top six candidates in the south.
“The candidates that we will proclaim as winners are safe even if all the voters from the last remaining precincts will be in favor of the closest pursuer,” said Gujilde, before some of the councilors were proclaimed.
For the north district, Comelec proclaimed as winners Nestor Archival (106,706, BOPK), Lahug Barangay Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos (101,984, Team Rama), Councilor Sisinio Andales (94,202, BOPK), Councilor Alvin Arcilla (96,454, BOPK), Councilor Lea Japson (90,992, BOPK), Councilor Alvin Dizon (85,468, BOPK) and Councilor Nida Cabrera (83,367, BOPK).
Competing for the eighth seat are Sambag I Barangay Captain Jerry Guardo of Team Rama and Councilor Noel Wenceslao of BOPK.
For the south district, Comelec proclaimed as winners Councilors Margarita Osmeña (124,319, BOPK), Gerry Carillo (117,714, BOPK), Cogon Pardo Barangay Captain Eugenio Gabuya (114,980, BOPK), Basak Pardo Barangay Captain Dave Tumulak (113,156, Team Rama), Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias (109,275, BOPK), and James Cuenco (107,049, Team Rama).
Competing for the seventh and eighth positions are Atty. Hanz Abella of Team Rama and Councilors Richard Osmeña and Jun Pe of BOPK.
Just 10 minutes before the Board of Canvassers would have convened for 24 straight hours, Atty. Gujilde declared a recess.
The board could not continue canvassing votes because three compact flash cards were found defective. These were from a clustered precinct each in Barangays Cambinocot and Mambaling in the south district and in Barangay Luz of the north district.
Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu City Schools Division Superintendent Rhea Mar Angtud told Sun.Star Cebu that the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) from the three precincts complained that the CF cards could not be detected.
The card serves like a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card of a cellular phone.
Gujilde decided to call for a recess yesterday before 7 p.m. since he had yet to receive word from the National Service Center on when the replacement cards would arrive.
“Since we are still in limbo, we are constrained to declare a recess. We will resume at 1 p.m. (today),” said Gujilde.
“Hay salamat, makatulog na gyud mi (Thank God, we can get some sleep),” a member BEI was heard saying.
Gujilde told reporters he tried to call the center about the cards. When the center returned his call, he was already busy with the proclamation of some of the winners of the Cebu City elections.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) 7 Director Temie Lambino explained that CF cards may be defective because of the mass production.
There are a total of 16 defective CF cards in the entire Cebu Province, including the three from Cebu City.
There is also that possibility that the CF cards were defective because of the short period of time in which the cards were programmed. There are more than 80,000 CF cards for use in the entire country.
There are contingency CF cards but these are blank and need to be programmed by the service center.
Lambino and Gujilde both gave positive feedback about the 2013 elections. Both could not compare it with the last automated elections in 2010, however, because they were not assigned in Central Visayas and Cebu City, respectively.
“There was no problem that did not have a solution,” said Lambino.
“Overall, the elections were okay except for the CF cards,” said Gujilde.
Last Monday, at least 31 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines conked out, but the results were transmitted using another PCOS machine stationed outside the canvassing center—the social hall of the Cebu City Hall Legislative Building.
Gujilde recommended that for the next automated elections, precincts should not be clustered to prevent long queues.
Comelec can retain the 200 voters per cluster and just identify a venue where the votes will be fed to the PCOS machine, he said.
He said this was done in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and it worked.
As far as canvassing is concerned, there was no problem. At least, it took the Cebu City BOC less than 24 hours to proclaim most of the winners, when it used to take over a week to proclaim winners in a manual election.