The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed the election protest filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo, removing doubts on her victory.
With just one year left into her term and as the 2022 election season looms, what happens now? Robredo can leverage the legal victory to play kingmaker in 2022 or run for public office, said Jean Encinas Franco, a political science associate professor at the University of the Philippines.
"She can be assured that legally, she is vice president. It's an added legitimacy. There's no more cloud of the electoral protest hanging over her head," Franco told reportr in a phone interview.
While the ruling is a welcome development, Robredo's ally Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said the Liberal Party wished that the issue would have been resolved "much sooner."
"We welcome the ruling although how we wish this had been resolved much sooner because it affirms what we have been saying from Day 1 which is that the allegations of cheating in the process was baseless," Pangilinan said in a statement.
Her win legitimized by the high tribunal, Robredo can now clap back at critics who have been questioning her victory for years, Franco said, noting the vitriol the opposition leader had to deal with for years.
"It shows that Leni Robredo was really the winner of the 2016 elections. Hopefully, this will dissuade pro-Duterte and pro-Marcos individuals from trolling her about her rightful place because this has already proven that she is the vice president," Franco said.
Can Robredo capitalize on the Supreme Court resolution for her future political plans? It's hard to say according to Franco.
"It's difficult to imagine that this will be used for leverage primarily because the elections are based on votes. I don't think it's going to be good to use," Franco said.
Ideally, Robredo's victory should not have been questioned to begin with, she said.
While the resolution cements Robredo's victory, it also shows how powerful the Marcoses still are in the Philippines, decades after the nation toppled their patriarch, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
"For Bongbong Marcos, the fact that he came very close to the vice presidency, says a lot about how the Marcos machinery that we thought is no longer there but obviously is still there, and might be used for future electoral exercises," she said.
Marcos had previously said he would run for a national post in the 2022 national elections while Robredo has been egged on by her supporters to seek the presidency.