Spanish professional footballer Bienvenido “Bienve” Maranon and Ateneo Blue Eagles basketball star Angelo “Ange” Koume of Ivory on Thursday said they were elated and honored to get the strong support of the House Committee on Justice in their quest to become Filipino citizens.
The House panel chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso unanimously approved the committee report endorsing plenary approval of bills making them naturalized citizens of the Philippines.
Veloso said the House panel will continue supporting moves of the country’s sports leaders to grant qualified aliens citizenships as adoptive sons and daughters of the Philippines.
He said the two top athletes are welcome additions to the national teams in football and basketball that will join international sports competitions.
Maranon’s naturalization was in bills filed by Reps. Manuel Luis Lopez (PDP-Laban, Manila); Greg Gasataya (NPC, Bacolod City); and Yedda Marie Romualdez (Tinggog Sinirangan). .
The 34-year-old Spaniard from Cadiz, Spain, will be tapped to beef up the Philippine Azkals, the national soccer team that represents the country in international competitions.
On the other hand, Koume will don the Philippine team’s jersey in the upcoming World Basketball Championship that will take place in the Phlppines in 2023.
Playing center with the Blue Eagles that won the Univeristy Athletic Association of the Philippines championship in 2018 and 2019, Koume will be the third foreigner to join the country’s national team in that position.
“Maraming salamat po. Masaya,” Koume said when asked by lawmakers to comment on the approval of his citizenship bid.
Koume has been living in the Philippines for nearly five years now. On the other hand,l Maranon established residence in Negros Occidental in 2015.
Deputy Speaker and Antipolo City Rep. Roberto Puno said NBA big men Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche were also naturalized through congressional process.
Puno authored the bills that gave all three NBA centers Filipino citizenship.