Villanueva denies using Tesda funds for senatorial bidBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines—Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Secretary Joel Villanueva denied he was using the agency’s funds to promote himself as a senate candidate.
Villanueva said in a roundtable discussion with Bandera Inquirer that the billboards and tarpaulins were donations from his supporters. He said that Tesda, with its meager budget, does not have funds for advertising.
“If Tesda has funds for TV ads I will use it. I will not be hypocrite and say I will not use it if there are funds. But there are none,” he said. “But I’m not going to put myself or my face. If I have funds for [celebrity endorsements] I will do it, but there really isn’t any. How I wish there are.”
Critics have called him “epal” for the Tesda billboards which feature a big picture of him, and called for their immediate removal.
Villanueva said that he took the opportunity to promote the agency using the donations from his supporters. “I would rather be called epal than [be told that I’m] not doing my job,” he said.
He admitted he intended to join the senatorial race.
“If you ask me if I want to be a senator, yes I want to be a senator, but it’s totally different when running a campaign,” he said. “It entails so much money … which I don’t have,” Villanueva said.
He said that if asked to decide right now to run or not, he said he won’t. “Honestly I don’t have a decision yet.” He was looking at all the many factors right now and could not decide yet.
Villanueva said that one reason that would fully compel him to run was the all-out support of his family, people from the church and his party.
There were still many people close to him who feel that it was not yet the right time for him to become senator.
Villanueva said that even if he would not join the senatorial election, he will be happy continuing his work in Tesda. “I love my job,” he said.