TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has endorsed the idea of renaming the Philippines to "Maharlika," SunStar Manila reported on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told a press conference that the president based his suggestion of changing the country’s name to Maharlika on a "historical perspective" as the proposed name was a Malay word that relates to the Filipino race, SunStar Manila reported.
"He [Duterte] said that [Maharlika] is a Malay word. Since we are Malays, we should have a name identified with us,” the official said.
On Feb. 11, Duterte floated the idea that in the future, he might rename the Philippines to Maharlika, which was previously proposed in a parliamentary bill in 1978, the outlet reported.
The proposal was not well received then because of its association with the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who also used Maharlika as a name for a guerilla unit to deceive Imperial Japan during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in the 1940s, SunStar Manila reported.
However, it’s not an easy task to change the country’s name.
According to the Philippine Constitution, a law and a plebiscite are required for the approval of a proposed new name for the country.
Panelo said Congress may pass a bill introducing new name for the Philippines.
"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," he said.