By Genalyn Kabiling
The proposed renaming of the Philippines could be implemented through a legislation to be presented in a referendum, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo issued the statement a day after President Duterte raised the possibility of changing the country’s name to Maharlika.
“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 in an interview with reporters at the Palace.
He said while the President floated the idea, it was up to the lawmakers whether or not to introduce a bill on the changing the country’s colonial name. Concerned stakeholders could also be invited during the congressional hearings on the matter, he added.
He said the President’s proposal on the country’s name change was “more of asserting our national identity.”
The President earlier floated the idea of changing the country’s name to Maharlika to reflect the country’s Malay identity.
Duterte, who has deplored the country’s past colonizers, said the late President Ferdinand Marcos was right to propose Maharlika as the new of the Philippines. The country was named after King Philip II of Spain when the country was a colony of Spain.
Asked if the President was serious about adopting Maharlika as the country’s new name, Panelo said: “Well, sa tingin ko kay Presidente ay magandang pakinggan ang Maharlika.”
He said if the name change prospers, the people could be “Maharlikano” or “Maharlikas.”
“Royalty hindi ba, sa Filipino language, ‘maharlika’ means royalty,” he said.
He remembered that former Senator Eddie Ilarde previously advocated the country’s name change through a bill years ago. “When he was a senator, I remember he introduced a bill pero wala yatang nangyari,” he said.
Panelo initially said the country’s name change could be done through an amendment of the Constitution.
“The Philippines is mentioned in the Constitution. So baka—if you issue an executive order or pass a legislation renaming it, baka some constitutional expert might say, ‘You cannot amend that, it’s in the Constitution,'” he said. “Siguro mas preferred siguro pag constitutional amendment para wala nang question,” he added.
But he later acknowledged that lawmakers only need to enact a law to adopt the country’s new name.