Duterte backs Marcos-era plan to rename Philippines as Maharlika

President Duterte speaking at the distribution of land certificates today (watch below).

President Duterte has suggested changing the country’s name from the Philippines to , as was once pushed by President Marcos.

The Philippines was named after the Spanish monarch Philip II. The archipelago was a Spanish colony for centuries until it became a US protectorate in 1898.


In a speech at a distribution of land ownership certificates in Maguindanao today (Monday, February 11), the president recalled how the late dictator had first raised the possibility.

“It is called Philippines because it was discovered by Magellan using the money from King Philip. That’s why when the fool arrived here, he named it ‘Philippines’,” he said.

“But that’s okay. Someday we will change it.” 


According to the president, Marcos was correct in pushing for the name change. The public, however, rejected the suggestion because Marcos was a dictator.

“Actually, Marcos was right. During his time he wanted to change it to Maharlika,” he said.

“The Republic of Maharlika, because Maharlika is a Malay word and it means – more of a concept of serenity and peace. Marcos was right back then.

“The Filipinos were just urged to reject it because they said Marcos was a dictator. Like me, they say I’m a dictator, when did I dictate something?”

The term Maharlika is often used to refer to the feudal warrior class in Luzon’s ancient Tagalog society. In modern Filipino, it also translates as “royal nobility”.

In 1978, former Senator Eddie Ilarde filed Parliamentary Bill 195, seeking to change the name Philippines to Maharlika.

The proposal was criticised due to its association with Marcos, who claimed to have formed a guerrilla unit of the same name during the Japanese occupation.

In June 2017, Congressman Gary Alejano filed a bill to create creation of a commission that would look into changing the name of the Philippines.

Alejano said that renaming the country would “rid it of the vestiges of colonialism, bolster the national identity and define how the nation, people and national language would be addressed internationally”.

The bill remains pending at the committee level.

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