Senate panel OKs petition for naturalization of Ginebra's Brownlee

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are looking to speed up the naturalization process so that the 6’6” American cager Justin Brownlee, Ginebra San Miguel import, could play for Gilas Pilipinas in the February window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.

American basketball player Justin Brownlee’s naturalization to Philippine citizenship passes at the Committee on Justice and Human Rights level after less than two hours of deliberations on his qualifications Monday, November 21, 2022. Brownlee, wearing a Barong Tagalog, answered queries from senators, sometimes in Filipino. (Senate PRIB Photo)

This came after the Senate justice and human rights committee, with Brownlee in physical attendance, terminated after more than one hour and 38 minutes of hybrid public hearing that ended at 11:38 A.M. today.

Brownlee’s proposed Filipino citizenship through the act of Congress might be given next month as both Houses of Congress are busy with the passage of the proposed 2023 P5.26-trillion national budget.

The House of Representatives approved last week its bill seeking to grant Brownlee Filipino citizenship. It was authored by Representative Mikee Romero.

The National Bureau of investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported to the committee chaired by Senator Francis Tolentinp that Brownlee has no derogatory record.

The Department of Justice, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have no objection to the grant of Filipino citizenship to Brownlee.

Brownlee was born in Georgia, USA on April 23, 1988.

Senator Ronald ‘’Bato’’ dela Rosa, a Philippine Military Academy (PMA graduate and s former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, recalled having had his military training at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA.

“The approval of the bill makes us one step closer from having our own dream team. This will surely stimulate every Filipino fan’s enthusiastic spirit.” He said.

Dela Rosa said the bill would grant Brownlee, a two-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) best import awardee, a Philippine citizenship to enable him to represent the country in the upcoming international basketball competition.

“There’s a saying, 'teamwork makes the dream work.' The proposed measure is our contribution to the collective efforts to achieve our dream of regaining the top spot in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and winning other international tournaments such as the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) World Cup,” he added.

When asked by Tolentino what Filipino trait endeared them to him, Brownlee said he gets along and that he is ‘’getting so much love and admiration ..I can’t believe it, it’s overwhelmng’’ that he wants to give back all the love.

The Afro-American cager said that there is a ‘’lot of hate’’ in the United States

` Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, a sponsor of one of the Senate bills seeking Brownlee’s Filipino citizenship, said the American cager ‘’is a great guy, a great personality.’’

Brownlee, who has been in the Philippines the last six years, said he tries to be humble.

He would answer back in Pilipino the questions fielded by Senators dela Rosa; Christopher ‘’Bong’ Go, chairman of the Senate sports committee; and Senate; and Tolentino.

Senate Majority Leader said Brownlee had shown his love, respect and admiration for the Filipino people, especially his fans since his arrival in the country in 2016.

“Justin Brownlee will be a Filipino who can bring glory to our country and give excitement and hope to Filipinos anywhere in the world,” Villanueva added.

Go said Brownlee assisted and led his team achieved Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) championships over the years.

“His incredible skills in the court have garnered him admiration from his coaches, teammates and basketball fans,” he added.

Brownlee said he has developed a liking for Chicken adobo and loves to go places such as Boracay, Batangas and Tagaytay City which he said are ‘’very nice.’’

Asked by Tolentino if he would be willing to defend the Philippines by enlisting in the reserve force by, Brownlee replied: ‘’Opo’’ (yes).