MANILA - Former TESDA chief Sen. Joel Villanueva will be serving another 6 years in the Senate after he was officially proclaimed on Wednesday, ranking 9th in the upper house elections.
The son of evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva, founder of the Jesus Is Lord congregation, got 18.4 million votes in the May 9 senatorial race.
The re-electionist senator, who heads the Senate committee on labor and the committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, said he is open to leading any Senate committee, and is also open to being part of the Senate minority.
“When it comes to committees, deferential committees, etc, I don’t mind. In fact, I can even say that I am open to being part of the minority," he said in a brief conference with media before the proclamation of winning senators.
Villanueva, who ran as an independent, said he was anxious “from the start” and found it difficult to mount a national campaign “without any parties, without any stage to go to, machinery, and financial capability,” but said his track record is what catapulted him to getting a second 6-year term.
He won a Senate seat in 2016 after a stint as director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) under the administration of the late President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III.
The former CIBAC party-list congressman was a guest candidate on the senatorial slates of presidential candidates Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson. He was also endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, presumptive Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Villanueva said he did not let pre-election surveys deter his re-election bid, saying there may even be errors in its methodology. In the last pre-election survey of Pulse Asia, conducted April 16-21 and released on May 2 or a week before the polls, he was in 13th-14th place or outside the winning circle.
“Marami kasing hindi rin nasu-survey. For example, sa local officials supporting you, ‘yong mga church groups, hindi naman nasasama ‘yon and ibang religious organizations supporting us,” he said.
Villanueva turned emotional in his proclamation speech as he dedicated his successful re-election to his father and the rest of his family. His mother and sister died in 2020 as the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
His mother, Adoracion "Sister Dory" Villanueva, died in March 2020 due to a heart rhythm disorder and her years-long bout with cancer, while his closest sibling -- Bocaue Mayor Joni Villanueva-Tugna -- passed away 2 months later due to a "common viral infection."
Villanueva committed to continuing his work to ensure that more Filipinos find stable work and income in his next 6 years in the Senate.
"5.8 percent pa rin ang ating unemployment rate, halos 3 million pa rin ang walang trabaho kaya ito ang ating tututukan, at alam natin na mabigat ang hamon ng ating pamahalaan sa darating na panahon," he said.
(Our unemployment rate is 5.8%, almost 3 million are jobless so this is what I will focus on, and we all know that the difficult challenges of the government in the coming years.)
Villanueva called on his fellow senators-elect and the Filipino people to "unite and work together for a better Philippines."