Justin Brownlee has taken another step toward becoming a Filipino citizen.
The House of Representatives formally approved on third and final reading a bill calling for the naturalization of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import.
A total of 274 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 6224, a bill that is a substitute for the HB 825 by 1-Pacman partylist Rep. Mikee Romero and HB 6071 by Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting.
With the approval, it is now up to the Senate to pass its own version – Senate Bill 1516 – before being tackled in the bicameral conference committee.
Once approved in the bicameral conference committee, it will be transmitted to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for signing before it lapses into law.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is hoping for a swift passage of Brownlee’s naturalization in the Upper House and the bicameral conference committee so that he can suit up when Gilas Pilipinas competes in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February, the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in May and the 19th Asian Games in September.
If ever, Brownlee will be the fourth basketball player to secure Filipino citizenship since 2011, joining the likes of Marcus Douthit, Andray Blatche and Ange Kouame.
“Justin Donta Brownlee is hereby granted Philippine citizenship with all rights, privileges and prerogatives, as well as the duties and obligations appurtenant thereto, under the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines,” the bill reads.
The measure also mandates that Brownlee “shall take his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines before an officer duly authorized to administer the same.”
Prior to the voting, the 34-year-old Brownlee paid a courtesy call to Speaker Martin Romualdez in which he handed him a signed basketball as a token of appreciation for his support.
The Speaker said the approval of Brownlee’s application for naturalization is their “humble contribution” to the country’s quest for a strong performance in the FIBA World Cup.
“This is the House’s humble contribution to the national basketball team’s quest for glory in the FIBA World Cup. Anything is possible if you put your heart or puso into it,” Romualdez said.
“Speaking of puso, we commend Justin for his desire to join Gilas Pilipinas in this path, to represent the Philippines which is his home in this corner of the world.”
Romero, one of the proponents of Brownlee’s Philippine naturalization in the House, has laid out the PBA star’s accomplishments and credentials before the plenary.
He said that with Brownlee, the Gilas Pilipinas will have a truly dependable ally in its quest to represent the country in major international events.