MANILA, Philippines — Former Secretary Joel “Tesdaman” Villanueva clinched yet another backing for his senatorial bid from one of the most influential political leaders in the north – Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos.
“He is a friend of the family and we know that the JIL (Jesus is Lord movement) is always with us in prayer,” the lady governor said as she introduced Villanueva as “Apo Joel” to local officials in the province during the 2nd Water Congress.
Marcos described Villanueva as a “seatmate and classmate for many years in Congress.”
The two were former members of the House of Representatives. Villanueva represented the partylist Citizens Battle Against Corruption, while Marcos was representative of Ilocos Norte’s second congressional district.
Villanueva’s father, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, is the founder of Jesus Is Lord movement.
“I am thankful for the endorsement, especially because it is coming from Manang Imee – a respected voice in Ilocos Norte,” Villanueva said.
“We are all witness to how the province has transformed into a progressive one because of her effective leadership through the years,” he added.
Early this week, Villanueva was also endorsed by Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Singson.
The former Director General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) barnstormed the Ilocos region to make known to the people his platform centered on quality education for the youth and sustainable jobs.
He spoke about the need to develop and enhance the youth’s green skills for green jobs to address the impact of climate change.
Ilocos Norte is home to wind farms, which has been the alternative source of energy for the province.
“Skills gaps are acknowledged in a number of sectors, such as renewable energy, renovation of buildings, construction and manufacturing,” Villanueva said.
“The adoption of clean technologies require special skills, and this is what tech-voc can teach the youth,” he added.
During his tenure at TESDA, Villanueva said the agency was able to assist 115,000 graduates through various scholarships and training.
He said relevant legislation, especially concerning education and employment, would help complement the successes made by local government units like Ilocos Norte.
For example, he said, he would push for the passage of a Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF), which would institutionalize a seamless education and training towards employment, if he succeeds in his bid to become senator in the May 2016 elections.
“The PQF will finally harmonize and weave together basic education, technical-vocational education and higher education into a unified, quality-guaranteed system,” he added.
Marcos is seeking reelection as the province’s governor. Her brother, Senator Ferdinand “Bong bong” Marcos Jr. is running for vice president in tandem with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. The two earlier adopted Villanueva as one of their senatorial candidates.
Villanueva is running under the platform TESDA –Trabaho, Edukasyon, Serbisyo, Dignidad and Asenso. Sammy Martin/PNA/northboundasia.com