Bienve Maranon and Angelo Kouame near naturalization. FILE PHOTOS
MANILA, Philippines — Athletes Angelo Kouame and Bienvenido Marañon’s naturalization bids have hurdled the House of Representatives, bringing them another step closer to gaining Filipino citizenship.
During its Tuesday session, the lower chamber approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 8632 and 8631 which grants Filipino citizenship to Ateneo Blue Eagles’ Ivorian basketball star Kouame and United City FC’s Spanish football striker Marañon, respectively.
Naturalization is a step required for the athletes to compete under the Philippine flag.
Once a naturalization bid hurdles the House, it will be passed to the Senate before its submission to the Office of the President.
Kouame was included in the 16-man lineup of Gilas Pilipinas for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain, but was not able to suit up due to his pending naturalization.
The center from Ateneo was named UAAP Rookie of the Year in 2018.
During the hearing of the House committee on justice back in December 2020, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio said that the Philippines eyes to progress in the international basketball ranking by excelling in different tournaments.
“Almost every team has a naturalized player especially in our region because the Europeans are very big,” Panlilio said.
“We are hoping with Ange here–He’s been here for four years. And I think it is an investment for the national team program of the SBP with Ange to be with us maybe for the next 10 to 15 years,” he added.
Meanwhile, Manila Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez, who filed the bill for Maranon’s citizenship, said that Marañon “has shown exceptional skills complemented by commendable work ethics.”
“He is known as one of the most prolific scorers in Southeast Asia,” Lopez said.
“If granted the opportunity to play for the Philippines, Maranon will undoubtedly be an invaluable asset to the national football team, the Azkals, and bring pride and honor to our country,” he added.
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