Bocaue Mayor Joni Villanueva-Tugna dies
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Mayor Joni Villanueva-Tugna of Bocaue, Bulacan, died on Thursday afternoon, May 28.
The executive management board of the Jesus is Lord Church Worldwide, where Villanueva served as executive director, made the announcement on the official JIL Facebook page late Thursday night.
She died at 5:08 pm on Thursday, due to sepsis secondary to bacterial pneumonia.
Tugna is the daughter of CIBAC Representative Eddie Villanueva, the JIL founder. Her brother, Joel, is a senator, while her husband, Sherwin Tugna, is a former congressman.
Tugna died two months after the death of their mother, Sister Dory Villanueva.
The JIL board described Tugna as “an exemplary leader, a pioneer, a trailblazer, and woman of vision and action.”
“She dreamed big dreams for God and the ministry and worked day and night to bring those to fruition. In fact, she was the brains behind JIL's many breakthrough programs, systems, structures, and infrastructures,” it said.
“As mayor of Bocaue, Bulacan, she was also a pioneer and trailblazer: innovative in her methods and humane in her actions. In fact, even as she was sick, she was working and serving and caring for her constituents – involved even in the packing and distribution of relief goods until her body stopped her to do so,” the JIL board added.
During the coronavirus lockdown, Tugna received praised for buying vegetables from Cordillera farmers for distribution to her constituents, after she learned that the farmers had problems selling their goods because of quarantine rules.
Senator Joel Villanueva was the first family member to confirm his sister's death.
"Today, Bocaue lost its finest public servant. Mayor Joni was relentlessly serving Bocaueños during this lockdown despite her medical condition, which eventually [cost her] her life. She’s more than a public servant to me, she’s my role model," Senator Villanueva said in a tweet past midnight of Friday, May 29.
Various personalities and Bocaue residents posted tributes to Tugna and messages of condolences to her family, among them Senator Nancy Binay.
At the Senate, the committees on finance and economic affairs observed a minute of silence in honor of Tugna, before they started their joint hearing.
Tugna embarked on her political career when she became a substitute candidate for her brother, then-Mayor Eddie Villanueva Jr, in the 2016 in the Bocaue mayoral race. She tied with rival candidate Jim Valerio, which was settled with a best-of-5 coin toss that she won. She was reelected last year. – Rappler.com