MANILA, Philippines --- ''Jennifer Lopez'' got the biggest number of votes for senator in Saturday's mock polls conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the University of the Philippines - Integrated School (UP-IS) in Quezon City.
However, the international celebrity is not about to claim a Senate seat as her name and those of other globally acclaimed personalities were only used as dummy candidates to test the entire voting process that will be used in the May 13, 2013 midterm elections.
The mock polls mimicked the actual Election Day activities beginning with the initialization of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines up to the transmission of votes both directly to the Central Server at the Comelec PCOS warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna, and at the Comelec main office in Manila, and through the step-by-step process from the precinct, to the municipal canvassing centers, to the provincial canvassing centers and eventually to the central/national server.
Based on the partial results at the UP-IS polling released by the Comelec Education and Information Department (EID), ''Lopez'' got 77 votes followed by Hollywood actress ''Cameron Diaz'' with 68 votes.
Other top vote getters for senator are musician ''Frank Allison'' (61 votes); astronaut ''Neil Armstrong'' (61); the King of Pop ''Michael Jackson'' (58); Mission Impossible star ''Tom Cruise'' (54); Canadian crooner ''Michael Buble'' (50); pop superstar ''Mariah Carey'' (49); legendary actor ''Harrison Ford'' (48); and ''Rocky'' icon ''Sylvester Stallone'' (48).
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), meantime, expressed satisfaction over the result of the random manual audit (RMA) held at the UP-IS.
''I'm not worried although we saw a slight differences in the RMA that we had,'' Henrietta de de Villa, PPCRV chairperson, said in an interview.
The country's former ambassador to the Vatican said they found difference in the votes of six senatorial candidates with one each; as well as with one mayor and one congressman.
De Villa said the difference could be attributed to the decision of the Comelec in its RMA General Instructions, wherein ambiguous marks will still be counted in the auditing with notes even though the PCOS machines will not be counting them.
''These will now be verified further by the Comelec as to where they can be attributed to,'' said De Villa.
Also, there were five over-votes and 147 under votes for senator, eight over-votes for congressmen, and five under votes for mayor as revealed in the RMA.
The RMA is the process required by the Poll Automation Law in order to check the accuracy of the results generated by the PCOS machines when compared to the manual reading of votes.
For his part, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez considered the general conduct of the mock polls as a success despite the minor glitches.
''Our assessment is that it was successful. All of the problems we saw are very minimal,'' he said.
Jimenez, however, admitted that they had a hard time transmitting some of the results.
''There should be a review of our signal mapping in order to validate if those indicated there are still accurate. We have to see it with our own eyes also. Who would think that in Katipunan (UP-IS), we would find a hard time transmitting our results,'' he said.
Jimenez said the findings showed that the contingency programs for transmission such as the use of the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) or the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) must always be ready.
As to the low voter turnout of the mock polls, the official said that while they are ''disappointed'' with the absence of actual voters, they are not worried.
''We know that if it is the real actual elections, people really do come. For a mock election, it is probably not that urgent for them,'' said Jimenez.
Last Saturday, mock polls were also held in Bagong Lipunan ng Crame (P. Bernardo High School) in Quezon City; 5th District of Manila (Epifanio delos Santos Elementary School and Herminigildo Atienza Elementary School); Iriga City (Iriga Central School and Sta. Teresita Elementary School), and the Municipality of Bato (Bato North Elementary School and Atipolo Elementary School), in Camarines Sur; Dumaguete City (City Central Elementary School and Camanjac Elementary School) and the Municipality of Sta. Catalina (Santa Catalina North Central School and Kabulacan Elementary School), in Negros Oriental; Cagayan de Oro City (City Central School and Balulang Elementary School) and the Municipality of Initao (Initao Central School and Oguis Elementary School), in Misamis Oriental; and the Municipalities of Bongao (Lamion Walking Blackboard Elementary School and Simandagit Elementary School) in Tawi Tawi; and Buluan (Pilot Elementary School and Talitay Elementary School) in Maguindanao.
Meanwhile, on the heels of Saturday's mock elections by the Comelec, a Catholic prelate expressed openness to the idea of having a mock election even in churches.
Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said this is in order for the prelates to have an idea as to what kind of candidates the Catholic faithful prefer.
''That's also one way of raising the consciousness of the voters at the same time providing maybe alternative candidates or alternative choice,'' he said in an interview.
To recall, the religious group El Shaddai conducted mock polls among its members during the 2010 presidential elections, and former President Joseph ''Erap'' Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) emerged as the winner.
Then Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar placed second while Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer and then Sen. Benigno Aquino III placed third.
The prelate, however, stressed that it should not be the Catholic Church that should initiate the mock polls but rather the lay groups.
''It should be conducted not by the Church per se but the lay organizations,'' Aniceto said.
He said the mock polls should be held a month before the May 2013 elections.