Before the last presidential election, Sarah Duterte, the daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte, was the leading presidential contender next to her father’s regime. She was leading far ahead in the surveys. She could have potentially become the country’s next leader, as her father could see it, but she chose to ignore him in her political decisions and partnered instead with the present chief executive, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) as the latter’s running mate, thus creating a superior tandem.

It turned out that her decision not to challenge BBM was a missed opportunity that seems to hinder her present and future presidential ambitions, ultimately affecting her chances. Her proximity to power, as the daughter of the controversial yet popular President Rodrigo Duterte, granted her significant political influence and a loyal following. Her tenure as Mayor of Davao City demonstrated her capacity to govern effectively and maintain public support. With her reputation and solid track record, she possessed the necessary foundation to launch a formidable presidential campaign.

Although BBM is the son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and represents a political dynasty with deep historical clout in the country, his family’s controversial rule is remembered for corruption, human rights abuses, and economic turmoil. Despite this, BBM has successfully endeavored to rebrand its image and appeal to younger voters. By challenging BBM, Sarah Duterte could have capitalized on the public’s distrust of the Marcos name and positioned herself as a viable alternative with a cleaner political background.
But she refused, thus missing the opportunity to present a progressive, alternative vision for the country. While the Duterte administration was known for its hardline policies, Sarah Duterte had the potential to distance herself from her father’s controversial practices and articulate a more inclusive and forward-thinking platform. In doing so, she could have attracted a wider range of voters seeking genuine change and reform.

In fact, challenging BBM would have allowed her to forge alliances with other opposition candidates or established parties aiming for regime change. By refusing to contest against BBM, Duterte may have inadvertently isolated herself, limiting cross-party collaboration and missing the chance to pool resources, expertise, and broader support to strengthen her campaign. But then again, it didn’t happen, to her political disadvantage.

Launching a presidential campaign is not merely a matter of personal popularity. Timing and momentum play a crucial role in political success. By failing to challenge BBM, Sarah may have missed her chance at a political environment wherein her message could resonate effectively. Waiting for a future election cycle might have resulted in a different landscape, potentially less favorable for her prospects. Whatever chances she has had at capturing the highest office in the land must have now diminished.

She did possess the necessary qualities, political clout, and public support to mount a credible presidential campaign, but her decision not to confront Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ultimately hindered her aspirations. This missed chance emphasizes the importance of calculated political choices that can significantly impact a candidate’s electoral prospects. Despite this setback, though, her political journey is far from over, leaving room for future opportunities to arise and shape the Philippine political landscape in unforeseen ways.