Evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva on Thursday formally joined the race for the Senate in 2013.
Villanueva, leader of the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Christian sect and chair of the Bangon Pilipinas party, yesterday went to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to formally file his candidacy certificate.
He substituted for Bangon Pilipinas senatorial candidate Israel Virgines, who withdrew his candidacy. Friday is the last day for substitution of candidates.
“There was a clamor for me to reconsider my former decision (not to run). So, because of the clamor, I decided to accept the challenge. I’m so inspired by the daang matuwid (straight path) program of our President P-Noy (Aquino),” he told reporters.
Villanueva twice made an unsuccessful run for the presidency, in 2004 and 2010. His son, Joel Villanueva, who heads the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), was supposed to have been considered for the administration coalition’s senatorial slate but dropped out reportedly because of his poor showing in the surveys.
According to Villanueva, certain prominent personalities, including former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and former Economic Planning Secretary Cielito Habito, had convinced him to run for senator. Puno joined him at the Comelec yesterday.
“My wife and all my children, they understand my passionate love for the country. They fully understand why I was imprisoned twice during (dictator Ferdinand) Marcos’ time. And now, this is just a continuity of our passion for the nation,” said Villanueva, who is the 33rd candidate running for the Senate next year.
Villanueva said he would act as a “peacemaker” in the Senate, if elected.
“I can serve as a peacemaker there. If senators have disagreements, I think I am qualified to patch up any possible differences and hasten the passage of sensible legislation needed by our country,” he said.
Villanueva said he would focus on the issues of the 10 million overseas Filipino workers and review the country’s “antiquated laws.”
“OFWs are spending so many years of their lives outside the country and their families need the help of government,” he said.
He said he was for the reproductive health bill but is opposed to divorce in general.
“The Bible says God hates divorce but there is an exemption. So, that would be studied in the Senate. I believe in the collective wisdom of the people to be elected in the Senate,” he said.
Virgines denied that Bangon Pilipinas had planned all along for Villanueva to eventually replace him as a Senate candidate.
“Although we are also qualified, for us he is better qualified because of his experience and dedication. He is popular and has winnability,” Virgines said.