MANILA — A senior official of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) on Wednesday finally confirmed his support to the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, but insisted that his act of leaving administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas should not be labelled as “turncoatism.”

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, an LP stalwart and chairman of the House committee on Appropriations, said his support to Duterte is expected because they are old friends and long-time political allies.

“I need not jump ship. Matagal na kaming nagkakasama ni Mayor Duterte. Matagal na kaming magkaibigan,” Ungab told reporters in a chance interview with House reporters during a bicameral meeting of next year’s national budget.

“In fact, when Mar introduced me to P-Noy (President Benigno Aquino III) and other high-ranking members of the administration, I was described as bata ito ni RodyDuterte (I am Rody Duterte’s guy),” he added.

Ungab was very evasive since Sunday following his reported decision to shift loyalty with Duterte broke out.Ungab is on his last term and eyeing his brother Engr. Alberto Ungab as his replacement who is running against Councilor Karlo Bello, son of House Deputy Minority Leader and 1-BAP Party-list Rep. Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III.

He stressed that he did not give a heads up to LP stalwarts since he is not running in 2016.

“I am on my last term. I am a lame duck politician now. I want to enjoy retirement from politics; be with my family. Being the House Appropriations panel chairman is stressful, and I only got to sleep four to five hours,” Ungab added.

“Secretary Mar understands, considering that I am from Davao. And I am grateful for his understanding. Formally, I did not inform them of anything because I am not running,” Ungab pointed out.

“Our (myself and Mayor Duterte) relationship goes beyond politics. We go a long way back, and since I joined politics, we have always been together,” he added. Sammy F. Martin/PNA