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Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director-General Joel Villanueva (from Joel Villanueva's Facebook account)

Who’s footing the bill for Joel Villanueva’s ads?

WHERE I STANDWhat is it with the chiefs of Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and their overwhelming thirst to show their mug on advertising materials ostensibly to promote the programs and projects of the agency?

First, we had the former Tesda Director General Augusto “Tito Buboy” Syjuco dancing around with singer-actress Sarah Geronimo in a television commercial a few years back.  It was memorable only for showing Syjuco’s lack of rhythm and two left feet.

Now, we have current Tesda chief and presidential BFF Joel Villanueva’s face plastered on giant billboards and tarpaulins that have sprouted in Metro Manila and provincial areas like the proverbial mushrooms after the rain.

We have also seen a number of his so-called transit ads splashed on huge buses plying Edsa and other major thoroughfares. As election fever sets in, we cannot help but notice the increasing frequency of Villanueva/Tesda ads everywhere.

This fellow is reportedly being eyed as one the Liberal Party’s picks in its senatorial slate that will be endorsed by President Aquino in the forthcoming 2016 elections.

But the problem is he is not even on the top 30 list according to the surveys of Pulse Asia. Villanueva, if we remember correctly, is somewhere in the 36th place among senatorial wannabes. In other words, his chance of landing in the winners’ circle is very slim.

This could be the reason he is flooding the media in all its forms with ads promoting himself in the guise of heralding the achievements of Tesda.  We have no problem with this if he is using his own money for the publicity blitz. But if he using government funds in the exercise, this is abuse of office and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

This is in sharp contrast to the ads of the Bureau of Internal Revenue creatively describing taxpayers’ contribution to government projects such as schools, bridges and hospitals as building blocks in nation-building. We did not even see the face or hear the voice of Commissioner Kim Henares in these ads.

Unlike that of Tesda’s where the face of Villanueva is even bigger in terms of exposure.

Who is footing the bill for these ads costing millions of pesos? We really hope the Filipino people are not paying through the nose for his vain multimedia exposure.

How did Villanueva come to this? Wasn’t his group, Citizens Battle against Corruption, or Cibac, advocating the prevention of corruption in government? If Tesda is, indeed, spending for his publicity campaign, wouldn’t this be considered a flagrant abuse and misuse of the government’s agency’s funds? Isn’t that also a form of corruption?

But then again, maybe they think that because they are now the ones doing it, it is not considered corruption. Have the perks and privileges of power gone to the head of Villanueva and perverted his sense of what is right and wrong? What does his father, Brother Eddie of the Jesus is Lord movement, have to say about this?

Joel Villanueva’s defenders can always say “It’s Tesda that is being promoted, not Mr. Villanueva.” Trouble is, that sort of alibi has been used by government agencies in the past to justify the expense of a pseudo public information campaign with the Commission on Audit (COA).

Wasn’t this the very same accusation hurled against Syjuco who allegedly spent hundreds of millions of Tesda funds for the supposed promotional programs of the agency? Now, they are doing the very same thing.

In closing, let me share with you what one of our listeners in our radio program “Executive Session” with Representatives Teddy Locsin and Boying Remulla and Atty. Dodo Dulay now heard every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on dzRH has said: “Mahirap po kami, pero ‘di kami tanga.” (We are poor, but we are not stupid.)