Will Joel Villanueva stay with LP?


After clinching the second-highest spot in the senatorial race, Joel Villanueva could not categorically confirm if he will be staying with the Liberal Party (LP).

The former chief of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) said on Thursday that he chooses to be more mature, especially after his surprising victory.

"I think I have to be more mature in this particular journey that I have to believe that people around me are actually rooting for me, whether it’s true or not," he told ANC's Headstart.

"Ako, in fairness, I felt great na marami din naman yung nagmamahal sa’kin dun sa coalition. Maraming intriga kasi, Karen. I think this election would probably be the most emotional and passionate lahat," he told Headstart host Karen Davila.

Villanueva clarified that he is the Chairperson and President of the party-list Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) and was simply adopted into LP's senatorial slate.

He added he will consult with CIBAC before deciding if he will stay with the LP or not, and maintained that his commitment will stay with the people.

"Siguro at the end of the day, one thing I can commit to [are] those who trusted me with their votes, I will be committed in creating jobs. Nothing more," he said.

It was not a smooth sail for Villanueva, who had a rift with party-mate, former Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

De Lima filed graft complaints against Villanueva before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the multi-billion pork barrel scam but Villanueva maintained that his signatures in the documents that were presented were all forged.

But Villanueva now says this is all "water under the bridge."

"Sumama 'yung loob ko; hindi ako magiging hipokrito na [sasabihing] hindi sumama yung loob ko. Hindi ako magiging hipokrito na sabihin ko na it was really okay and smooth. It was super weird until the last day. Hindi ako magiging hipokrito na sasabihin ko okay lang," he said.

Despite all the "weirdness," Villanueva still believes De Lima is a good addition to the Senate.

"Yung personal differences or yung personal grudges, wala na ho yun eh. At the end of the day, we have to make sure na united tayo bilang isang bansa because what’s at stake here is not my personal [benefit]," he added.

The election results, he said, is a vindication and proof that "people believe na I didn’t do it." He added that the 18-million votes that he got continue to humble him.

As of Thursday morning, the partial and unofficial tally has Villanueva at number 2 of the race and De Lima at 12.

Apart from his commitment to fulfill his promise to create job once he assumes office, Villanueva also vows to give presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte his full support.

Weeks prior to the elections, photos of Villanueva's father, Bro. Eddie of the Jesus is Lord movement, praying over Duterte surfaced and earned flak among LP supporters because Villanueva is campaigning with administration bet Mar Roxas.

The younger Villanueva, however, said his father actually prayed for everyone and not just for Duterte, adding this is really his father's calling.

"I understand what he did. Nalungkot ako dun sa, syempre, whether ginawa nila yun na merong hidden agenda or not," he said, referring to the malicious interpretation of Eddie's photo with Duterte.