Maharlika, floated around as an alternate name for the Philippines during the time of President Marcos, is back. This time, it is no less than President Rodrigo Duterte hinting of the possible name change in a recent speech.
Changing the country’s name to Maharlika, however, will require Congress to draft a law that will later on be submitted to the people for referendum, Malacañang maintained on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the remark a day after President Duterte said he was open to the idea of changing the country’s name.
He stressed that while the Chief Executive floated the idea of a name change, it is only up to Congress whether or not to make a push for a bill to change the country’s colonial name.
The official added Mr. Duterte’s desire to change the country’s name to Maharlika was “more of asserting our national identity.”
“The Constitution provides that Congress may enact a law that can change the name of the country and then submit it to the people for a referendum,” Panelo told reporters.
Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano has already drafted a bill seeking to create a commission for the name change.
According to Panelo, this is no longer needed since it is already stipulated in the Constitution that Congress can enact a law.
“If the Constitution says you can enact a law, why do you have to create a commission? By proposing a bill, you deliberate it in Congress. He then can invite all players. It’s pretty much the same thing,” Panelo said.
Should the name change push through, citizens could be called “Maharlikano” or “Maharlikas.”
“It sounds like royalty, right? In Filipino, ‘maharlika’ means royalty,” Panelo said.