The Philippine Senate has officially approved the third and final reading on the bills granting Filipino citizenship of Ivorian basketball player Ange Kouame and Spanish football player Bienvenido Marañon, Monday afternoon.

/ 16 March 2021

House Bill No. 8631, a bill granting naturalization to the 34-year-old striker to Bienvenido Morjon Marañon, had received a unanimous vote of all 23 senators present, while HB 8632, a bill also granting Filipino citizenship to Kouame, was also unanimously approved, 23-0.

The bill will now be handed to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature to sign the bill into law, then if approved, both athletes will be presented before an official of the Bureau of Immigration to take the Oath of Allegiance.

With these bills, Kouame will be eligible to represent the Philippines in the country’s upcoming tournaments as a naturalized player, namely the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, FIBA Asia Cup, the 31st Southeast Asian Games, and other future tournaments.

On the other note, Marañon will be allowed to play for the Azkals, after six years of playing for Ceres-Negros, now United City FC which will take action in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Asian Qualifiers in China in June.

“Kouame is primed to make a significant contribution to Philippine basketball. He is ready to play for the national team. More importantly, he is more than willing to represent our country,” Senator Sonny Angara, the chairman of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), averred.

“Ange is still very young and his game is still developing. This early we have already seen how good he is playing in the UAAP. He will only improve with his continued training at the hands of our very capable coaching staff and trainers in Gilas Pilipinas,” he added.

Once signed, both citizenship bids will only be made official once it is published in the Official Gazette and a newspaper of general publication.

Sen. Angara had constructed an amendment of the naturalization bills which state that it will immediately take into effect instead of the 15 days after publication.