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The Philippines

Rodrigo Duterte again channels late dictator Ferdinand Marcos by calling for Philippines’ name to be changed

  • Duterte said the Philippines’ name should be changed to ‘Maharlika’ which refers to nobles in the local language
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2019, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2019, 10:48pm

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will need to change the constitution to adopt a new name for the country, the Senate president said.

Duterte said the Philippines’ name should be changed to “Maharlika” which refers to nobles in the local language, reviving the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ proposal. Philippines is a reminder of the country’s colonial past, having been derived from Spain’s King Philip II, he said.

Senate President Tito Sotto, however, seemed cool to Duterte’s idea, which the lawmaker said may entail rewriting the Constitution identifying the Philippines as the country’s name.

“It will require too many changes,” he said in a mobile-phone message on Tuesday.

Duterte has also been pushing for changes to the nation’s charter, primarily to install a federal form of government.

“Someday, let’s change it,” Duterte said after distributing land titles in the Muslim-majority southern province of Maguindanao. “Marcos was right. He wanted to change it to Maharlika, because that’s a Malay word which means more of a concept of serenity and peace.”

Marcos was right. He wanted to change it to Maharlika
Rodrigo Duterte

The late dictator, who was ousted from power by a peaceful uprising more than three decades ago, first suggested the name change to promote nationalism after he placed the Philippines under military rule.

Duterte has made a habit of finding common cause with Marcos’ legacy. In 2016, he said he would allow Marcos’ body to be buried at the Philippines’ heroes’ cemetery, despite strong opposition. Marcos fled to Hawaii in 1986 following a popular revolt. He had ruled the Philippines for 20 years, during which time his family amassed an estimated fortune of US$10 billion.

In August 2018, Duterte said corruption and illicit drugs were so entrenched in the Philippines that if he were not around, it would be better off run by a dictator such as Marcos.

He also appeared to endorse Marcos’ son – Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, better known as “Bongbong” – as his preferred vice-president, potentially paving the way for a succession to the top job should Duterte step down before his term ends in 2022.