By WAYLON GALVEZ And JONAS TERRADO
Ateneo basketball star Ange Kouame and football striker Bienvenido Maranon are soon to become Filipino citizens after the House of Representatives unanimously approved bills on their naturalization on third and final reading on Tuesday.
Voting 210-0, the House of Representatives approved the application of the 7-footer Kouame of Ivory Coast to become a naturalized Filipino so he can be of service to Gilas Pilipinas for future international competitions.
Maranon, a Spaniard, also got the nod of the lower chamber via a 206-0 voting.
Maranon is hoping to be granted citizenship in order to suit up for the Philippine Azkals in international competitions, namely the AFF Suzuki Cup and Asian Cup.
For Kouame it was House Bill No. 8632 and its principal author was no less than Antipolo First District Rep. Robbie Puno who is also vice chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
But for them to become naturalized Filipinos, similar bills will have to pass and approve by the Senate.
Once the bills hurdle all the necessary steps at the Upper House, both Kouame and Maranon will only need the signature of President Duterte to be able to play for the Philippines.
A Senate version of the bill which will give citizenship to the Spanish-born Maranon was submitted last year by Senator Miguel Zubiri.
Maranon, 34, is the all-time leading scorer of the AFC Cup, Asia’s second biggest club competition, with 35 and has led Ceres/United City to the first four titles of the PFL.
Kouame, on the other hand, has the full backing of Sen. Sonny Angara who is the chairman of SBP.
Angara’s Senate Bill No. 1892 is still pending since Nov. 9, 2020.