Originally published by ABS CBN News
MANILA -- The House Committee on Justice gave the nod granting Angelo Kouame and Bienvenido Marañon Filipino citizenship on Thursday, a step required for the athletes to compete under the Philippine flag.
“Maraming salamat po!” said the Ivorian cager Kouame as lawmakers moved to approve the two separate measures which are all scheduled to be tackled on Monday before the House plenary.
The committee report on House Bill No. 5951 filed by Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno was filed in December last year seeking to grant Kouame Filipino citizenship.
A separate committee report on the substitute bill to consolidate 3 House bills seeking to grant Marañon was also approved.
The Philippines is set to host the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Japan and Indonesia.
“We saw you in Ateneo and the way you grabbed those rebounds and the defense. With Kai Sotto and Ange Kouame together in 2023 in Manila, I think we will have the most formidable frontline ready to compete against America and other countries,” said Valenzuela 2nd District Rep. Eric Martinez.
SBP hopes Kouame naturalized in time for FIBA Asia Cup
The objective to naturalize Kouame is to “create a pool of naturalized players” if another player gets injured or if certain problems with players arise, Puno explained.
He also pointed out during the hearing that Kouame has been living in the country since 2016 which makes him different from other athletes who were given naturalized citizenship.
“Pagalingan ngayon ng pag-naturalize ng players because in the world now, the definition of a national team is, 11 natural-born players and one naturalized player. It is up to congress to naturalize that player so we have to be very good as a House of Representatives to be able to supply a usable and very beneficial naturalized player to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP)”, said Puno who is also the vice-chairman of SBP.