MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Senate on Monday approved on the third and final reading the bills granting Filipino citizenship to athletes Ange Kouame of basketball and Bienvenido Marañon of football.
House Bill No. 8631, which granted Filipino citizenship to the 34-year-old Marañon, received the approval of all 23 senators. HB 8632, granting Filipino citizenship to Kouame, was also unanimously approved on Monday's session
They will now be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature. Once the measures are passed into law, both Kouame and Marañon will be eligible to represent the Philippines in international competitions.
Marañon, who plays for United City Football Club, has made no secret of his desire to play for the Philippine Azkals as well as to establish a football academy in the country.
Kouame, meanwhile, has already been training with the Philippine national team pool in anticipation of his naturalization.
"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," said Senator Sonny Angara, the chairman of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) who is also the principal author of Senate Bill 1892 that granted Philippine citizenship to the 6-foot-10 center.
"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.
Kouame is expected to play for the national team in its upcoming tournaments, including the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers in mid-June and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on June 29 to July 4.
Marañon, who was born in Spain, should be eligible to suit up for the Azkals when they return to action in June for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Asian qualifiers.