By JONAS TERRADO
The Philippine Football Federation is now facing the prospect of not having Bienvenido Maranon suit up for the Azkals in the resumption of the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers in Suzhou, China.
Maranon’s naturalization has yet to reach Malacanang after it took just Tuesday, May 18 for the House of Representatives to concur with the Senate version of the bill which was approved on the third and final reading two months ago.
“We are still waiting for Bienvenido Marañon’s naturalization as a Filipino. We understand the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the process which may have stalled Bienve’s papers in Congress,” said PFF president Nonong Araneta in a statement.
“Meanwhile, basketball player Angelo Kouame, whose naturalization process ran side by side with that of Bienve, was already granted Filipino citizenship after his naturalization was signed into law last Monday. It is unfortunate that Bienve wasn’t able to get his naturalization on the same day as Angelo as both of them went through the process together,” he added.
Kouame’s naturalization bill was signed into law by President Duterte, prompting football followers to wonder about Maranon’s status.
The Senate passed both bills and were sent back to the House of Representatives at the same time last March 15, but enrolled copies of Kouame’s naturalization were transmitted to Malacanang more than a month later.
With Maranon’s naturalization still needing several requirements before being sent to the Palace, Araneta admits that time is no longer on the PFF’s side.
The Azkals are slated to resume their qualifiers campaign on June 3 with three matches slated in Suzhou, and the team was hoping that the stint would be the Spanish-born striker’s maiden appearance for the Philippines.
“We have been facing challenges in preparing the men’s national team for the remaining matches of the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in China starting June 3,” said Araneta.
“We were hoping that the urgency of our situation would have made the process of Bienve’s naturalization faster. But with the current situation, we are facing the prospect of not having Bienve in the team for the remaining matches, considering the numerous requirements he has to comply with before he can suit up for the country.
“We remain patient and hopeful that Bienvenido Marañon can join the national team in the future,” added the PFF chief.