MANILA, Philippines – The Senate justice and human rights committee said on Friday, November 18, that it will tackle Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee’s naturalization bid in a public hearing next week.
Committee chairman Senator Francis Tolentino will head the first session of the proceedings, which will discuss Senate Bill 1336 filed by Senator Ronald dela Rosa last September.
It is set to start at 10 am on Monday, November 21.
“He has lived in the Philippines for over five years. His discipline and athleticism serve as an inspiration to the Filipinos,” said Tolentino.
“It would arouse further patriotism and Pinoy pride in each and every one of us, especially in a sport very popular in the country,” he added.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had apologized to Tolentino for the delay in filing Brownlee’s naturalization papers during a budget hearing last October.
Meanwhile, SBP chairman Senator Sonny Angara filed Senate Bill 1516, another Senate counterpart bill for Brownlee’s naturalization last Wednesday.
“Brownlee will be of big help to Gilas Pilipinas. As a basketball fan, his PBA accomplishments have been tremendous,” said Angara in Filipino.
The 6-foot-6 American swingman appeared before the House justice committee last Wednesday to explain his intentions of becoming a Filipino citizen aside from playing for Gilas Pilipinas.
Brownlee relayed that he wanted to be a part of what he described as a welcoming Filipino culture.
House Bill 825 quickly hurdled the committee level and will soon be tackled at the plenary.
Both the Senate and the House are looking to pass the measure before the month-long Congress break in late December.
“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,” said Angara.
“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 Barangay Ginebra in the PBA.”
The SBP is targeting Brownlee to be its naturalized player during the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers set to be held at the Philippine Arena in February 2023.
Gilas will look to defend home court against Lebanon on February 24, and Jordan on February 27. – Rappler.com