Is a duly elected Senator of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of the 18,459,222 Filipino votes, securing him the number two spot in the May 9, 2016, senatorial race.
His vision is change: Change to transform the lives of the Filipino people through Trabaho, Edukasyon, Serbisyo, Dignidad, at Asenso.
He has articulated the need to match education and training with jobs and advanced the cause of Filipino workers at home and abroad, despite being a neophyte senator.
For this, he was elected Chairman of two important Committees in the Senate: Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, and Higher, Technical and Vocational Education.
He takes pride in sponsoring more than 500 Senate Bills and Resolutions, many of which passed into laws, striking victories for Filipino students and workers.
Among the significant laws he authored during the 17th Congress are the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Law (Republic Act No. 11058), the Telecommuting or Work-From-Home Law (RA 11165), the Free Tuition Law (RA 10931), the Philippine Qualifications Framework Law (RA 10968) and the Tulong-Trabaho Law (RA 11230).
He continues to create levers of change during the 18th Congress through the passage of his pet legislation such as the Distribution of 100% Service Charge to Rank-And-File Employees of Restaurants, Hotels and Similar Establishments (RA 11360), the National Academy of Sports (RA 11470), the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 (RA 11466) and the Good Manners and Right Conduct and Values Education Act (RA 11476).
Amidst the influx of illegal foreign workers, Senator Villanueva stands at the forefront, championing the “Filipino First Policy”. He exposed how illegal foreign workers steal jobs and pilfer opportunities from Filipinos.
His Senate hearings uncovered corruption and bribery in the Bureau of Immigration where foreigners paid extra cash to have their special work permits expedited.
He strongly criticizes the laxity in regulating Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) not only because government income and jobs for Filipinos are lost to Chinese workers but also because of his decades-long stance against all forms of gambling and immorality.
This conviction shaped his thoughts. It helped him make TESDA an inspiring and empowering organization during his stint as the agency’s Secretary from 2010-2016. It was under his stewardship that TESDA received its nationwide ISO 9001:2008 Certification. It made possible the quality training of 10 million Filipinos.
Through massive information campaigns and innovative programs, he changed the connotative meaning of “Tech-Voc” and earned him the reputation of the “Tesdaman.”
Before joining the cabinet, Joel was the representative of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Party List during the 12th, 13th, and 14th Congresses.
In his first term, he became the “Benjamin of the House” or the youngest member of the House of Representatives. In his second term, he filed an impeachment complaint against the highest official of the land. In his last term, he became the first Party List Representative member and minority leader of the Commission on Appointments. He is also one of the principal sponsors of Republic Act 9485 or the Anti Red-Tape Law of 2007.
Joel is a graduate of Commerce, Major in Economics, at the University of Santo Tomas. From 1996 to 1998, he took up Special Studies in Business Administration at Harvard University in Massachusetts.
He is also a certified “barista,” upon completion of an Advanced Food and Beverages Service Course (NC III) at TESDA in 2012. The Polytechnic University of the Philippines gave him an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 2013.
Former President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III conferred upon him the “Order of Lakandula,” on account of his remarkable performance as TESDA chief. For his role in shaping the development agenda and making an observable development impact, he was awarded “40 Under 40 International Development Leaders” by the US-based Development Executive Group.
As an outstanding son of Bulacan who excelled in the field of public service, the provincial government awarded him “Gawad Dangal ng Lipi for Public Service.”
He is currently co-captain of “Senate Defenders”, but his love for basketball can be traced back to his student days, when he played for the UST Growling Tigers and the Philippine National Team that competed in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Men Championship in Johor, Malaysia in 1994.
The Bulakenyo senator is married to Gladys Cruz-Villanueva and they are blessed with two children, Jaden and Gwyn, whom they consider as “Divine gifts.” His father, Bro. Eddie Villanueva is the founder and Spiritual Director of the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Church Worldwide.