GINEBRA – Justin Donta Brownlee, an import player in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) who currently plays for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel basketball team, has passed a significant milestone on his path to naturalization and citizenship in the Philippines.
This comes after the House Committee on Justice, which is chaired by Representative Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th District, Negros Occidental), on Wednesday passed House Bill (HB) No. 825, a measure calling for his naturalization as a full pledged citizen of the Philippines.
After a lengthy debate on Brownlee’s personal information and topics surrounding his desire and willingness to become a member of the Filipino community, House Bill 825, which was sponsored by Rep. Michael Romero, Ph.D. (Party-list, 1-PACMAN), was approved. Romero is the author of HB 825.
Pidi Barzaga, a congressman representing the Fourth District of Cavite, presided over the hearing that lasted approximately thirty minutes before he motioned for the bill to be approved. Several departments within the federal government, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI), expressed no opposition to the naturalization of the import.
The initial step toward Brownlee’s goal of playing for Gilas Pilipinas in international events was the first reading’s approval of his request to become a citizen of the Philippines.
According to Romero, Brownlee, an American professional basketball player, has brought an incredible amount of pride and joy to the Philippine Basketball Association as well as to all of the people in the country who are passionate about basketball.
Brownlee stated that he receives a lot of affection from the fans and the people of the Philippines, “and it would be amazing to be a part of the country, and keep helping out as much as I can with the national team.”
After the hearing, Brownlee, who was born on April 23, 1988 in the state of Georgia, United States of America, thanked the committee head Ferrer, saying “Maraming salamat po.”
The SBP is pleased with the decision made by the House panel.
Al Panlilio, head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, expressed gratitude to the House Committee of Justice for moving Brownlee’s naturalization bill through the committee with such speed.
“The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and I, on behalf of all basketball-loving Filipinos who eagerly await the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in February next year, would like to thank the House Committee on Justice, chaired by Rep. Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer, for approving on initial hearing the application for naturalization of Justin Brownlee,” SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement on
Panlilio congratulated Romero, as well as the Deputy Speaker and Representative from Antipolo, Robbie Puno, as well as other members of the Justice Committee, for their fast adoption of the bill.
Ferrer asked Congress to adopt the bill in its last reading before they take a break from December 14 to January 22. However, there is no timeframe yet for when the second reading will be made, and there is currently no indication as to when it will be made.
The Social and Basic Needs Program (SBP) has expressed their optimism that Brownlee will be able to get his Filipino citizenship in time for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, in which he is anticipated to play for Gilas Pilipinas as a naturalized player.
“As celebrated as Gilas Pilipinas’ Middle East victories over Jordan and Saudi Arabia in Window 5 of the Asian Qualifiers were, I believe the hometown crowd would want nothing more than to savor two more Gilas PH triumphs – against Lebanon and Jordan – right in our own country to wrap up preparation and as (a) prelude to the FIBA World Cup in August 2023. Panlilio expressed their optimism that they would be able to accomplish their goal, adding that this time around, they would have Justin Brownlee guiding them.
In the event that the law is passed by the House of Representatives, Senator Bato dela Rosa, who drafted the Brownlee naturalization bill, will be able to move forward with drafting the Senate’s version of the legislation.
If this version of the bill is also passed, it will be sent to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for the final signature that would make it a law. If this version of the bill is also accepted, it will be referred to as the agreed upon bilateral version of the bill.
Panlilio has already expressed his gratitude to the legislators for their prompt action, even though the SBP is still waiting for it.
Panlilio expressed his gratitude to both the House of Representatives and the Senate for their “unrestrained support” of Philippine basketball by saying, “Again, my deepest thanks to the House and the Senate for their unbridled support.”
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