THE success of “Choices and Voices for 2010,” a forum for the presidentiables at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) on Friday, was marred by criticisms on the result of the mock polls.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino, standard bearer of Liberal Party and who is consistently leading in the national surveys, lost to administration bet Gibo Teodoro by 160 votes during the mock elections.

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The losers in the mock elections accused Gov. Gwen Garcia’s camp of hoarding Gibo’s supporters at the CICC because he gathered 456 votes out of 960 voters against Aquino’s 296 votes.

Organizer Erik Mendoza, president of Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), denied the accusation and blurted it was “totally out of context.” How I wish I was there. I could have witnessed how the mock poll was carried out.

The result of the mock polls, as Gov. Garcia puts it, was a “jolt” to the party of Sen. Aquino. People, let us not forget that the elections are still in May 10. Many things can still change before May.

I don’t see any reason though for the supporters of Aquino to feel insecure with the result of the mock elections because their candidate is still the leader in all the surveys conducted nationwide.

The result of Friday’s mock polls is not even indicative of the sentiments of the entire electorate. Perhaps, it was Teodoro’s demonstration of intelligence and eloquence that earned him the votes from the intelligent participants of the forum.

As UP Cebu Professor Felisa Etemadi said: “it is not certain that his (Teodoro) polished language reaches out to the other segments of the voting population.”

This is the second mock elections that Teodoro won. But those were only mock polls. It may help boost his chances but not enough to win him the presidency because he is associated with the despised Arroyo administration.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), on the other hand, cannot publicly campaign for a particular presidential bet because unlike the INK there is no such thing as a Catholic Church vote.

The most that the CBCP can do is issue pastoral statements like advising the voters not to be swayed by survey results or political ads in choosing their national leader for the next six (6) years.

Does the CBCP already have a choice for the next president of our republic but only scared that their bet will not win? Can they be frank enough to tell their flock of their choice? I’m sure the faithful Catholics will listen.

The pastoral statement is couched in general term, but full of innuendos who not to vote for in the May 10 presidential elections. The priests are against the RHB.

Bangon Pilipinas standard bearer Eddie Villanueva even believes that he would be the next president of this land if the Catholics would abide by the pastoral statement of CBCP. It’s easier said than done, Brother Eddie!

“Winnability,” the CBCP advised, should not be a criterion for voting. In the past elections, most voters went where the bandwagon was. The less popular or less moneyed candidate, but morally and intellectually equipped has no way of winning.

The change should start from us, the voters. The church, schools and media should help educate the voters on how to choose the right leader sans the material considerations.