MANILA, Philippines – Changing the name of the Philippines will require a change in the Constitution.
This was noted by Malacañang on Tuesday (February 12) when the issue on renaming the Philippines resurfaced after President Rodrigo Duterte hinted that he is amenable to using “Maharlika” as the country’s new name in the future.
During his speech in Maguindanao on Monday (February 11), President Duterte expressed his agreement to the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ proposal of changing the country’s name to Maharlika as it better suits the Filipinos’ native roots.
“The Philippines was discovered by Magellan using the money of King Philip. Okay na iyan. Balang araw palitan natin. Actually, tama si Marcos. Gusto niyang palitan — Maharlika,” President Duterte said in his speech.
In the 16th century, the Philippines was named ‘Las Islas Filipinas’
by Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos in honor of King Philip II of Spain when the country was still a Spanish colony.
It officially became the Republic of the Philippines in 1946 when the United States of America relinquished its sovereignty over the Philippine islands.
In 1978, former Sen. Eddie Ilarde filed Parliamentary Bill 195 which sought to change the name of the Philippines to Maharlika, a Tagalog word attributed to nobility and royalty.
Netizens took to social media to post their views on the matter:
“Tama lang na Republic of #Maharlika. Royal Malayan blood ang dating. Pag Philippines kasi, we are reminded of being conquered,” wrote Twitter user @millionairex7s.
“Agree with changing Pinas’ name, but #maharlika? Too abstract a word for me. I can’t relate to it. Maybe ‘Republic of Malay’ — that I can live with,” said @visayasKami.
Others just straight up oppose the idea of changing names.
“From Republic of the Philippines to Republic of Maharlika??? How about a ‘no’,” said @sanandresmariel.
“OK, I support the pres, but dude, it’s not the right time to change that. We should focus on more important things,” wrote @avbxiii.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified, however, that though the President was just aiming at opening a discussion on the matter, the proposal would need a charter change.
“Mas preferred siguro kung constitutional amendment para wala nang question,” he said.
There had been many attempts to change the name of the Philippines in previous Congresses but not a single legislation prospered. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mon Jocson)