Goodbye Philippines, hello 'Maharlika'? Duterte wants to rename country in break from colonial past

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's call echoes a push by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to call the nation "Maharlika" which in the local language means nobility.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's call echoes a push by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to call the nation "Maharlika" which in the local language means nobility.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is advocating to change the nation's name one day to "Maharlika" to move away from the country's colonial links.

Duterte's call echoes a push by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to call the nation "Maharlika" which in the local language means nobility. The country, which was under Spanish rule for more than 300 years, derived its name from Spain's King Philip II.

Senate President Tito Sotto said Duterte's idea would entail rewriting the Constitution and will require too many changes. Duterte has also been pushing for changes in the nation's charter and shift to a federal form of government.

"Someday, let's change it," Duterte said on Monday (Feb 11) after distributing land titles in the Muslim-majority province of Maguindanao.

"Marcos was right. He wanted to change it to Maharlika because that's a Malay word."

Marcos, 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.