Duterte insists on PH name change, drops Maharlika

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo from Presidential Communications Operations Office)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, March 3, insisted on changing the name of the country but seems to have dropped his suggestion to rename it Maharlika.

“Kaya sabi ng mga ano na papalitan ko, gusto kong palitan balang araw (That’s why I said I want to change it someday),” the president said as reported by The Philippine Star.

The chief executive once again expressed his intent to change the Philippines’ name during a groundbreaking ceremony of a gymnasium in Isabela City, Basilan.

“No particular name yet but sure, I would like to change the name of the Philippines because the Philippines is named after King Philip,” Duterte added.

Duterte reiterated that the country and its people were stuck with the name since the Spaniards colonized the country in 1521. They named the country after King Philip II who funded the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan that led him to discover the Philippines.

The president first mentioned his plan to change the country’s name last Monday, February 11 in Bulan town of Maguindanao where he distributed land titles to Agrarian reform beneficiaries. He affirmed that former president Ferdinand Marcos was right to propose “Maharlika.”

“Actually, tama si Marcos. Panahon ni Marcos, tama talaga si Marcos. Gusto niya palitan (ng) Maharlika the Republic of Maharlika. Gusto niya palitan it means, more of concept of serenity and peace (Actually, Marcos was right. He wanted to change it to the Republic of Maharlika. He wanted to change it for the concept of serenity and peace),” he said.

“We can’t do anything anymore. Philippines because it was discovered by Magellan using the money of King Philip. Kaya pagdating ng ulol ginawang Philippines. Pero okay na ‘yan, balang araw palitan natin (When they arrived here they named it Philippines. But it’s okay, we can change it someday),” he added.

Former senator Eddie Ilarde filed a bill that aimed to rename the country to Maharlika in 1978. He emphasized that such word contains the term maha which means noble and likha which means create.

However, some critics frowned upon Duterte’s plan noting that he must put emphasis on more important issues. Others criticized the suggestion stating that Maharlika literally means big phallus.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo reminded that changing the name of the Philippines would need a law and a referendum.

“The Constitution provides that Congress may enact a law that can change the name of the country and submit it to the people for a referendum. It’s more on asserting our national identity,” Panelo said. 

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