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Makabayan senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares on Wednesday expressed misgivings about President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to change the name of the Philippines to “Maharlika.”

What’s the point, he argued, “when the Duterte administration cannot even defend its sovereignty?”

“Bago natin baguhin ang pangalan ng Pilipinas, ipagtanggol muna natin ang kanyang soberanya,” Colmenares said in a statement.

“It would be very superficial to change the name of the Philippines but our sovereignty is being trampled upon by China and the US. It is more important to defend our sovereignty like our forefathers did than just merely change the country’s name to appear more patriotic,” said the progressive leader.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the “US and China are apparently treating the Duterte administration as a push over by doing what they want not only in Bajo de Masinloc but in the rest of the West Philippine Sea without nary a whimper from Malacanang,”

“China even rebuffed Pres. Duterte himself when he called on China to rethink its conduct in the WPS,” he added.

“China insisted that they have the right to react to foreign ships or aircraft that get close to its islands and even built a supposed rescue station.While the US continuously patrol the area and issue incendiary statements against China,” Zarate said.

“We need not declare war on China nor the US. But what we need is for Malacanang to firmly stand up for our territory not change the name of our country,” he said.

“We have already suggested several times in the past the filing of diplomatic protests and increasing patrols of our seas, and joint patrols with our neighbors, among others,” Zarate said.

“One thing is clear though, the government must do something now to stop this growing threat of China, and the US’ plan to renegotiate the Mutual Defense Treaty to their advantage,” he said.

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