(UPDATE) Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has resigned from Manila Mayor Isko Moreno's party Aksyon Demokratiko to support the presidential candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2022 elections.
Hilbay ran for senator in the 2019 elections under Aksyon Demokratiko party along with other candidates from the Liberal Party-led Otso Diresto opposition coalition, but none of them won.
While he respects the decision of Aksyon to choose Moreno as its presidential bet and thanked the party for its support in 2019, he believes Robredo "is a much better candidate in this most crucial of elections."
"I am leaving Aksyon not to join another party, but out of ethical considerations," Hilbay said in a letter posted on his social media accounts.
"Because I intend, as an ordinary citizen, to publicly support [Robredo's] campaign, I must resign from the only political party I have ever joined," he added.
Hilbay said the Philippines needs a president who will address the country's problems "not with publicity stunts to manipulate Filipinos but with honest-to-goodness attempts at solutions."
The country's next president should also show up and level with the people, and treat them not as objects but as partners in nation building, he added.
"Leni Robredo is that leader," Hilbay said.
"She is a president who understands why the Marcoses are a current threat; she will hold Duterte and his cronies accountable for their crimes; she will stand up to China and not see the West Philippine Sea as merely for sale," he said.
"She will continue to be honest, open-minded, transparent, and one with the citizens. She will respect her office and the Constitution," he added.
While Aksyon Demokratiko lost a good member in Hilbay, the party still gained thousands of members belonging to different and bigger political parties, said party chairman Ernest Ramel Jr.
"In fact, we continue to get more queries and applications from other candidates even after the filing of certificate of candidacies had lapsed," he said.
"This just proves that Aksyon Demokratiko, particularly our standard bearer, Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso are getting more support and gaining more strength as we embark towards victory in 2022," he added.
Prior to running for senator in 2019, Hilbay, in his capacity as solicitor general, helped the Philippines win its arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute.
In May, President Rodrigo Duterte likened the Philippines arbitration victory to a "piece of paper," adding that in reality, the situation in the West Philippine Sea is dictated by who is more powerful.