Yap wins hairline victory against Evasco in Bohol gubernatorial race

Ryan Macasero
(UPDATED) Evasco is President Rodrigo Duterte's former Cabinet Secretary. He plans to file an electoral protest.

PROCLAIMED. The Bohol Provincial Board of Canvassers proclaims the victory of Arthur Yap in the Bohol gubernatorial race on May 16, 2019. Contributed photo by Kenny June Requero

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Arthur Yap won a hairline victory against President Rodrigo Duterte’s former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr in the gubernatorial race in Bohol. 

The Board of Canvassers proclaimed Yap’s electoral victory early Thursday morning, May 16, or 3 days after the voting.

Damaged SD cards caused delays in canvassing votes from 3 towns – Sagbayan, Panglao and Tubigon. The Commission on Elections had to ship the cards to Cebu to be repaired first before canvassing could continue.

Yap received 326,895 votes in the final count. He had a narrow lead of 2,161 over Evasco’s 324,734 votes.

“I thank the Bohol-anons for giving me the opportunity to serve them. It’s an honor for me and my family,” Yap told reporters in Cebuano after the canvassing. He is Bohol’s outgoing 3rd District Representative.

Evasco earlier said he’d file a petition declaring a failure of elections in Bohol. He claimed “massive” vote buying and fraud in the elections in the province. 

“It is for all of them that I finally arrived at this difficult decision to instruct the Nationalist People’s Coalition-Bohol and Hugpong ng Pagbabago-Bohol to make preparations for the filing of a petition to declare a failure of elections,” the former Maribojoc mayor said in a statement on May 15.

He told Rappler his legal team was “still gathering evidence.”

Evasco spokesperson Boy Pernia later clarified in an interview with Rappler that Evasco plans to file an election protest and not a petition to declare a failure of elections in Bohol. 

“We’re focusing on the reports of massive vote buying and not necessarily the integrity of the VCMs,” Pernia said. 

Evasco’s supporters gathered around the Bohol Provincial Capitol on Wednesday to protest the results. They left without incident after Yap’s victory was proclaimed.  

Yap dismissed Evasco’s earlier claims. “There is no failure of elections,” he said. 

“People came out in record numbers to manifest their will so we must not frustrated 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,” said Yap. 

Duterte endorsed Evasco but it’s Yap who ran under the administration party PDP-Laban. The President was in Bohol a few days before the elections, on May 8, to campaign for Evasco. It is where he made inappropriate comments about Mayor Tita Gallentes.

Evasco, who managed Duterte’s 2016 presidential campaign, ran under the Nationalist People’s Coalition. He was also endorsed by presidential daughter Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago party. 

Yap is a former agriculture secretary who served under the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

Yap’s running mate, Rene Relampagos, secured a wider margin after garnering 329,115 votes over his vice gubernatorial opponent Tomas Abapo Abapo Jr, who got  275,760 votes. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.