Former Cebu governor Gwen Garcia drops party-mate Vice President Jejomar Binay and officially endorses Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte for president.
The Cebu 3rd district representative is also taking a leave of absence from her party, the United Nationalist Alliance, until after the national and local elections on May 9.
"It was a difficult decision. I have to support the decision of One Cebu, it is the party I founded," said Garcia in a phone interview with Rappler.
One Cebu, which Garcia founded in 2007, had announced severing its alliance with UNA and its standard-bearer Binay on March 21.
The provincial party's chairman, Winston Garcia, officially announced their endorsement of Duterte on April 3.
Gwen previously said she will remain loyal to Binay, even appearing at an UNA rally in Toledo City on March 29.
However, she said the strong clamor from Cebuanos made her change her mind.
"I can no longer ignore the overwhelming clamor the Cebuanos have for change and their support for Duterte," said Garcia.
Cebu has the largest voting electorate in the country with 2.7 million registered voters.
"Cebuanos are looking at me. I was governor of Cebu for nine years. I can't just stay silent. My voice is a voice many seek to hear," said Garcia in a report from the Inquirer.
The congresswoman was also one of the founding members of UNA.
According to Garcia, she was assured by UNA president and Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco that she could come back anytime.
She said she hasn't spoken with Binay about her decision.
The vice president has supported Garcia's political career, even during her suspension from office as governor in 2012.
The legislator is seeking reelection this year. Her opponent, provincial board member Grecilda Sanchez, who is running under the Liberal Party, challenged Garcia's decision.
"When you transfer from one group to another, you are undecided, you don't know where you stand," said Sanchez.