By Jonas Terrado
Two bills seeking to grant citizenship to Ceres-Negros football players Bienvenido Maranon and Robert Lopez Mendy were filed at the Senate recently.
A check with the Senate website revealed the bills were filed last March 3 in order for the two strikers to get a chance to represent the Philippine Azkals in future international competitions.
Senator Miguel Zubiri initiated Bills 1390 and 1391 in order to make Maranon and Lopez-Mendy as naturalized citizens.
Maranon, who hails from Spain, has been in the country since 2015 when he was signed by Ceres. He has led the Busmen to four domestic league titles, including the last three Philippines Football League trophies and multiple AFC Cup appearances.
The 33-year-old recently became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the AFC Cup when he found the back of the net twice in Ceres’ 4-0 win over Indonesia’s Bali United last Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“He dreams of building a family in this country, and raising his children surrounded by the kindness, humility, and hospitality that Filipinos are known for,” Zubiri said in his explanatory note.
“He also aspires to represent the Philippines as part of the national team vying in international competitions, and make the country known as one of the top teams in the world of football,” he added.
The 33-year-old Lopez-Mendy, born in Dakar, Senegal, played for Forza, Green Archers United and Kaya in the United Football League and PFL before becoming part of Ceres’ title runs in last year’s PFL and Copa Paulino Alcantara.
He’s also married to Filipina Maebel “Ameera” Ybera Lacastesantos since 2016.
“Mr. Mendy envisions a Philippines that is known not only in the worlds of basketball and boxing,” said Zubiri.
“It is his desire to play an integral part in developing football in the country and helping mold the youth to become competitive and at the same time teach them to uphold the ideals of sportsmanship and fair play.