MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, December 12, approved on third and final reading the naturalization bill of Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee.
With 21 affirmative votes, no negative, and no abstentions, House Bill 6224 was unanimously approved without amendments by the Upper Chamber and will be transmitted to Malacañang for signing into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“We would like to express our gratitude to our colleagues here in the Senate and the House of Representatives who gave their full support to the naturalization of Brownlee,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman and Senator Sonny Angara.
“Brownlee has now deemed the Philippines as his second home and has demonstrated a strong desire to contribute to the country as a future player of our Gilas Pilipinas squad,” he added.
The House of Representatives approved the bill on third reading last November 29 following a 274-0-1 vote in the plenary.
Once signed into law, 34-year-old swingman will join former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson and Ateneo center Ange Kouame in Gilas Pilipinas’ naturalized player pool.
Brownlee – who is averaging 28.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup – is being eyed as the reinforcement for the sixth and final window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
The Philippines will face FIBA Asia Cup silver medalists Lebanon on February 24 and Jordan on February 27.
Pending Marcos’ signature, Brownlee will become a naturalized citizen in 15 days following the publication of the law in the Official Gazette.
He will then be compelled to proclaim an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines to be administered by the Bureau of Immigration and will be allowed to apply for a Philippine passport afterwards.
The SBP will then file the paperwork to FIBA to get its nod for Brownlee’s stint with the Philippines.
According to Angara, who is also the Senate finance committee chairman, funding will be available in the 2023 national budget for the country’s hosting of the FIBA World Cup.
The Philippines, along with Japan and Indonesia, will host the 32-nation conclave from August 25 to September 10 next year. Local venues include the Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena for the group phase and the Philippine Arena for the final stages. – Rappler.com