MANILA -- (UPDATED) Voting 274-0-1, the Philippine House of Representatives approved House Bill 6224 which grants Filipino citizenship to basketball star Justin Donta Brownlee on third and final reading.
Brownlee was present when the House approved the bill during the plenary session Tuesday.
Before the approval, Brownlee met with House Speaker Martin Romualdez in his office.
Brownlee handed over his signed basketball as token of appreciation to the Speaker.
"This is the humble contribution of the House of Representatives to the national basketball team's quest for glory in the FIBA World Cup. Anything is possible if you put your heart or 'puso' into it.
"Speaking of puso, we commend Justin for his desire in joining Gilas Pilipinas in this path, to represent the Philippines which is his home in this corner of the world. Mabuhay ka, Justin Donta Brownlee! Puso, laban para sa bayan!" Romualdez said in a statement to media.
"Speaker Martin, just wanted to give you a special shout out and a special thank you for the blessing and the honor to be in your presence. Maraming salamat, thank you for everything, I love you," Brownlee said in a video statement.
"Today is a truly historic day for Philippine basketball as we all register our votes for this House measure for the naturalization of Mr. Justin Donta Brownlee, a person who has volunteered to become a Filipino citizen out of his own will and borne out of his love for Filipinos and for our country. We are now showing our countrymen that we recognize and fully support our country's quest for pride and glory as we host the 2023 FIBA World Cup here in this country, our beloved country the Philippines. Undoubtedly, with the passage of this measure, we will be providing our country, our men's basketball with a formidable ally which embodies the never say die attitude and spirit of the Filipino citizen." 1PACMAN Rep. Michael Romero said in his vote explanation.
The congressional fact sheet explained that the bill will grant Filipino citizenship to Brownlee, who is a citizen of the United States, in recognition of his notable contributions to the Philippines.
The fact sheet explained that the bill cites that Brownlee brought pride and joy to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as well as to all basketball enthusiasts in the country.
It also cited that Brownlee led the team Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings to its first championship in 2016 and gave the Gin Kings two more titles in the 2017 PBA Governor's Cup and the 2018 Commissioner's Cup where he was also named Best Import.
The fact sheet noted that Brownlee wants to play for the Philippine national basketball team and be one of the representatives of the country in the forthcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023, where the Philippines is one of the host countries.
The fact sheet also cited that Brownlee is actively supporting local sports programs, activities and community services in Filipino communities.
"He embodies the Filipino values of perseverance, determination, and dedication to work in service to the country, and has a sincere desire to live in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen," the fact sheet said.
Aside from granting Brownlee citizenship, with all the attendant rights, privileges and prerogatives, the bill also mandates that Brownlee shall enter upon the full enjoyment of Philippine citizenship when he takes the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines before an officer duly authorized for this purpose, registration of the same with the Bureau of Immigration, and issuance of his Certificate of Naturalization.
The House will submit the bill to the Senate for action.
The authors of the bill are Romualdez, Reps. Michael L. Ph.D. Romero, Elpidio “Pidi” F. Barzaga Jr., Manuel Jose "Mannix" M. Dalipe, Gus S. Tambunting, Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer, Roberto V. Puno, Margarita Ignacia B. Nograles, Jonathan Keith T. Flores, Ysabel Maria J. Zamora, Pablo John F. Garcia, Loreto B. Acharon, Ma. Rachel J. Arenas, Irwin C. Tieng, Ron P. Salo, Raul Angelo "Jil" D. Bongalon, Dante S. Garcia, Olga "Ara" T. Kho, Laarni Lavin Roque, Zaldy S. Villa, Divina Grace C. Yu, Jaime R. Fresnedi, Francisco Paolo V P. Ortega, Romeo M. Acop, Roy M. Loyola, Joseph Stephen "Caraps" S. Paduano, Jose Gay G. Padiernos, Raul "Boboy" C. Tupas, Dan S. Fernandez, Celso G. Regencia, Yevgeny Vincente B. Emano, Arnie B. Fuentebella, Paolo Z. Duterte, and Jeffrey Soriano.
A press release from the Speaker's office said that Brownlee, 34, is originally from Georgia in the US.