MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) United City FC striker Bienvenido Marañón is now officially a Filipino citizen, after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11570 into law.
RA 11570 grants Philippine citizenship to Marañón, who was born in Spain but has played in the Philippines since 2015.
The Philippine Senate approved on third and final reading the bill granting Filipino citizenship to Marañón last March 15. However, the bill wasn't signed by Duterte until July 2, and was made public on Wednesday, July 7.
Marañón thus missed the Philippine Azkals' campaign in the joint FIFA World Cup/AFC Asian Cup qualifiers last month.
Marañón will still have to take the Oath of Allegiance and register with FIFA before becoming eligible to play for the Azkals. But already, the striker is celebrating the milestone.
Despite the delay in his naturalization, Marañón is fully committed to the Azkals and to Philippine football, according to national team coach Scott Cooper.
"He's committed to the country, he travels around the country, spends a lot of time doing different things," Cooper said of the striker.
"Football fans here need to know that this guy is totally committed to the country and doing well for the Azkals and the national team," he added.
In a statement, Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta expressed his gratitude that Marañón's naturalization is now finalized.
"We thank the leadership of the Philippine government for signing into law allowing football player Bienvenido Marañon to become a Filipino citizen," Araneta said.
"He will be a vital asset for the Azkals in the coming years and has shown how much he loves the Philippines and is ready to represent the country," he added.