MANILA, Philippines -- United City FC star Bienvenido Marañón moved closer to his dream of playing for the Philippine Azkals on Wednesday afternoon.
This, after the House Committee on Justice approved House Bill 7427, which seeks to grant Filipino citizenship to the striker. The bill was filed by Representative Manny Lopez of the first district of Manila last August.
Marañón, 34, appeared during the virtual hearing of the committee and expressed his desire to become a Filipino and play for the Philippine national football team.
"For me, I will like to become Filipino because I love the country, I love the people. I feel much love from the people. And I would like to give them the love that I received," said the Spanish born player.
"I would like to play with the Azkals, with the national team… I would like to help them to reach the World Cup and play the Asian Cup again, and try to win the Suzuki Cup," he added.
Marañón moved to the Philippines in 2015 when he signed with Ceres Negros FC. He helped the club become the most dominant outfit in local football while also raising their profile in the Southeast Asian region.
When Ceres Negros gained new ownership and was rebranded as United City FC, Marañón showed his commitment to the club and continued to play for them. He helped UCFC rule the 2020 season, winning Golden Boot honors after scoring seven goals in five games.
"If granted the opportunity to play for the Philippines, Marañón will undoubtedly be an invaluable asset to the national football team, the Azkals, and bring pride and honor to our country," Lopez said.
Marañón told the Committee on Justice that he also intends to put down his roots in the Philippines and help Philippine football grow through his own academy.
"I would like to let my family grow here in the Philippines, build my house, and try to help the kids to have a better life, and better future through football. I would like to build my academy for the kids, start from them and try to make them a better life," he said.
The motion to grant Marañón citizenship was unanimously approved by the committee.
A counterpart bill seeking Marañón citizenship's remains pending in the Philippine Senate. It was filed by Senator Migs Zubiri in March.