The Senate justice committee, chaired by Sen. Dick Gordon, approved the naturalization bills for the Ivorian basketball player Angelo Kouame and Spanish football striker Bienvenido Maranon.

/ 25 February 2021

Angelo Kouame and Bienvenido Marañon are another step closer to gaining Filipino citizenship following the virtual hearing of the passing of both naturalization bills in their committee hearing on Wednesday morning.

Senate Bill No. 2058, filed by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman Sen. Sonny Angara, looks to grant citizenship for Kouame as the 6-foot-10 player is being groomed to replace aging Andray Blatche as Gilas’ center for major tournaments including the FIBA Asia Cup later this year and the 2023 FIBA World Cup the country is co-hosting.

“Andray Blatche has hit the peak of his career, we need some fresh blood and Ange Kouame really provides that,” Sen. Sonny Angara said during yesterday’s hearing. 

“He’s one of the most exciting players in Ateneo, and Ateneo is really unbeatable with him there in the middle. So he would be a wonderful addition to our Philippine national team,” he added.

The same goes for Spanish football forward Marañon, pinned on Senate Bill No. 1391 by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who seeks to grant naturalization status in hopes to play for the Philippine Azkals.

The star striker of United City FC expresses his intent to wear the Philippine jersey, even sang the Lupang Hinirang to the committee members. 

The Senate committee voted 210-0 in the third reading of House Bill No. 8632 for Kouame while 206-0 in the final reading of House Bill No. 8631 for Maranon. 

After passing the first hurdle in the Senate, the bills will now have to be cleared for three readings in the Senate, then gets submitted to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte who has the final say to sign or decline these naturalization bills.