Joel Villanueva

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Emmanuel Joel Jose Villanueva (born 2 August 1975) is a politician. He is currently a senator, having been elected in the 2016 elections. From 2010 to 2015, he was the director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). From 2001 to 2010, he was a representative of the Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list.

Villanueva played collegiate basketball with the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers. He was also a member of the Philippine national basketball team while in college.

On 6 October 2021, Villanueva filed his certificate of candidacy for the 2022 senatorial elections.[1] Although he is running as an independent candidate, he is part of the tickets of presidential candidates Leni Robredo, Panfilo Lacson, and Manny Pacquiao.[2][3]

Early life

Emmanuel Joel Jose Villanueva was born on 2 August 1975 in Bocaue, Bulacan to Eddie Villanueva, a Christian evangelist and founder and president of the Jesus Is Lord Church, and Adoracion Jose Villanueva.[4] He received his bachelor’s degree in commerce with a major in economics from the University of Santo Tomas in 1996. He completed his graduate studies at Harvard University in 1998.[5]



Villanueva played competitive basketball in college. While a student at the University of Santo Tomas, he was part of the varsity basketball team, the UST Growling Tigers, when they won the men’s basketball championship of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines’ Season 56 and 57 in 1994 and 1995.[6] He was also a member of the Philippines’ national basketball team when it participated in the first SEABA championship in 1994, among other international competitions.[7]

He joined the charity league UNTV Cup in 2013, playing first for the Congress-LGU Legislators and then the Malacañang Patriots the following year.[8]  When he became a senator in 2016, Villanueva joined the Senate Defenders.[9] The team won the championship in the UNTV Cup Season 6 in 2018.



Villanueva entered politics in 2001, when he was elected to the House of Representatives as a representative of the Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list.[10] However, his assumption of office was delayed by seven months because of issues with the party-list being an extension of the Jesus Is Lord Church, which his father, Eddie Villanueva, founded. He was the youngest member of the House of Representatives when he finally took office in February 2002 at the age of 26.[11]

Villanueva was a member of the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2010, serving a total of three terms. During his first term, he was the minority leader of the House’s Commission on Appointments. He was among the principal sponsors of the Anti Red Tape Law of 2007.


President Benigno Simeon Aquino III appointed Villanueva director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 2010.[12] One of his first agenda upon assuming office in the agency was an audit of its ₱2.4 billion sponsorship debt stemming from undocumented scholarships. After the audit, which found “ghost” schools and scholars, the debt was reduced to ₱880 million.[13]

TESDA’s central office, as well as its 17 regional and 81 provincial offices, were given ISO certifications during Villanueva’s stint in the agency.[14]

He resigned from his position in the agency in October 2015 to prepare for his senatorial bid in the 2016 elections.


Garnering the second-highest number of votes, Villanueva was elected senator in the 2016 elections under the Koalisyon ng Daang Matuwid of outgoing president Benigno Simeon Aquino III. He was also part of the senatorial lineup of presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago.[15] His electoral campaign emphasized his experience as director-general of the TESDA, with his platform focusing on employment.

On November 14, 2016, five months after he was elected senator, Villanueva’s dismissal from public service was ordered by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.[16] She cited Villanueva’s “grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service" over his alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund while he was a representative for the CIBAC party-list. Villanueva claimed that the evidence against him was forged. His colleagues in the Senate voted not to dismiss Villanueva after adopting Senate legal counsel Maria Valentina Cruz’s opinion that the Office of the Ombudsman has no disciplinary powers over members of the Congress and therefore has no jurisdiction over their administrative offenses.[17]

Personal life

Villanueva is married to Gladys Cruz-Villanueva. They have two children.



Original content from WikiPilipinas. under GNU Free Documentation License. See full disclaimer.


  1. Philippine Star. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  2. Rappler. 15 October 2021.
  3. One News. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  4. The Standard. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  5. Joel Villanueva's website. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  6. The Manila Standard. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  7. Philippine Star. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  8. Philippine Daily Inquirer. August 31, 2021.
  9. Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  10. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  11. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  12. The Standard. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  13. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  14. TESDA. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  15. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  16. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  17. Rappler. Retrieved August 31, 2021.