Vote-buying, ERI also recorded in peaceful Central Visayas

VOTE-BUYING and several election-related incidents were recorded in Central Visayas during the national and local elections the other Monday when Cebuanos voted a new Cebu City mayor vice the controversial Tommy Osmeña and a former Agriculture secretary defeated a former Duterte Cabinet secretary in the hotly-contested Bohol gubernatorial race.

However, Police Regional Office 7 director, Brigadier General Debold M. Sinas said the situation in the entire region was generally peaceful particularly in Cebu City where the beaten Osmeña and city police director, Colonel Royina Marzan exchanged heated accusations days before the election.

“There was a generally peaceful election day in the whole of Central Visayas and the isolated incident of suspected election-related incident in Loay, Bohol did not affect the entirety of the election process in the said province and the whole region at all. Our objective of seeing to it that there will be ‘no failure of election’ in the region was also achieved thru the good preparations and the synchronized effort of all the security forces in the region,” Sinas told the Journal Group.

PDP-Laban candidate Edgar Labella won  the hotly-contested Cebu City mayoralty race garnering  265,738 votes against 246,813  of LDP’s Osmeña.

Nationalista Party’s  Raul Degamo was also the runaway winner in the Negros Oriental gubernatorial race, getting 425,405 votes or more than 300,00 votes against his closest rival, independent candidate Ikay Villanueva.

In Bohol, former Agriculture Secretary-turned Bohol Representative Arthur Yap of PDP-Laban has been proclaimed as the new provincial governor beating former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco of NPC by a slight margin prompting the latter to say he will contest the decision.

Jekoy Villa of PDP-Laban also was the runaway winner of the race for the Siquijor gubernatorial beating his rival by more than 27,000 votes.

Sinas said at least 12 vote-buying incidents were reported on the eve of the election, three in Cebu province; two cases each in Cebu City and Bohol and one each in Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

Sinas said they investigated six cases in Cebu City, two in Cebu province and one each in Bohol and Negros Oriental.

A total of nine persons: five in Cebu City; three in Cebu province; and one in Negros Oriental were arrested for suspected vote-buying during operations which also led in the seizure of P21,270 in different denominations.

Sinas said  one of those arrested for vote-buying was Jose Cane,  52-year old chairman of Barangay Looc in Danao City while the rest are civilians.

The PRO7 director said  on election day, they investigated a suspected election-related incident in Barangay Tangcasan Norte in Loay, Bohol wherein two supporters of Loay mayoralty candidate, lawyer Hilario Ayuban were attacked by two armed men who were riding a black SUV.

The incident reportedly took place in Bgy. Tangcasan Norte. Sinas said one of the victims identified as Lucas Wate was shot in the chest by one of the suspects.   Wate’s companion Michael Gaslang was also mauled by the suspects without any provocation.

The official said that regionwide, the casting of votes started exactly at 6 a.m. and was terminated at exactly 6 in the evening. He said  there was no power interruption recorded during the 12-hour voting period.

PRO7 agents guarded all polling sites before, during and after the elections.

Sinas said technical difficulties were also registered in the region. He said there were a total of 80 voter’s counting machines or 1.24 percent of the total which malfunctioned: 18 in Cebu City; 14 in Mandaue City; five in Lapu-Lapu City; 19 in Cebu province; seven in Bohol; 12 in Negros Oriental and five in Siquijor.

He also reported that 124 Voter’s Registration Verification Machine or VRVMs also malfunctioned in the region or 2.08 percent of the total VRVMs distributed in Central Visayas by the Commission on Elections.

The malfunctioning VRVMs were recorded in Cebu City with 65; 23 in Lapu-Lapu City; and 34 in Cebu province. However, the malfunctioning VCM and VRVMs were immediately replaced.

The official said they also arrested 123 liquor ban violators: 67 in Cebu City; 47 in Cebu province; and eight in Bohol during 453 operations. Four loose firearms were also seized during the day.