The naturalization of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel resident import Justin Brownlee gained fresh support after Senator Sonny Angara filed another measure to expedite the plan.
Angara, who also chairs the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, previously expressed his willingness to initiate the process of naturalizing Brownlee and possibly another foreign player to boost the roster of Gilas Pilipinas in major international competitions.
“We all know the capabilities of Brownlee on the basketball court and can only imagine the great things he can do as a member of our Gilas Pilipinas team,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Justin has demonstrated his strong desire to be part of the national team having played and lived in the Philippines for over five years as an import of Ginebra in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association).”
Last Wednesday, Angara filed Senate Bill 1516, which seeks to grant Philippine citizenship to Justin Donta Brownlee.
It was the second bill filed for the same purpose, after Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa filed the Senate Bill 1336 last September.
Both bills will be referred to the Senate Committee on Justice headed by Senator Francis Tolentino.
Angara acknowledged the urgency in finalizing the naturalization of Brownlee as the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February is already drawing near.
Gilas will be battling Lebanon and Jordan in the prestigious event that will also serve as a dry run of the country’s hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup next year.
The Justice Committee of the House of Representatives had completed its public hearing on House Bill 825, its own version of the naturalization bill for Brownlee, paving the way for the measure to be discussed in the plenary.
If granted, Brownlee will become the first foreign basketball player to be granted Filipino citizenship after Americans Marcus Douthita and Andray Blatche and Ivorian Ange Kouame.