Brownlee nears Filipino citizenship as House OKs naturalization bill on 2nd reading

American basketball player Justin Brownlee attended a hearing on his naturalization conducted by the House Committee on Justice and Human on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (Photo from the Sesnate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines — Well-loved Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee is closer to getting his Filipino citizenship as the House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill calling for his naturalization.

During Wednesday’s session, House Bill No. 6224 was approved via viva voce, with none voting against it.

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The bill was a substitute for House Bill No. 825 by 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Michael Romero and House Bill No. 6071 by Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting.

Romero, who sponsored the bill, mentioned how Brownlee had been a highly-regarded figure not only in the Philippine Basketball Association, where he plays, but also in other leagues where he has helped Filipino teams.

“Mr. Brownlee, who stands at 6-6, was born on April 23rd, 1988, and has been a permanent fixture in Philippine basketball, and a fan-favorite of Filipinos since 2016.  He has given several championships to his mother team […] he also aided the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas for the first Asean basketball league championships,” Romero said.

“Throughout Mr. Brownlee’s very decorated career, and illustrious, in the PBA, he was able to attain five PBA championships and two Best Import Awards with an average of almost 29 points per game, 12 rebounds, and six assists.  He is also the first PBA import to record 400 plus three points,” he added.

The passage of the substitute bill on second reading means that only another round of discussions would be needed before both versions from the House and the Senate are consolidated and amended if there are differences.

The consolidated bill then goes to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his signature.

On Tuesday, Brownlee appeared before a Senate panel tackling his naturalization wearing a barong tagalog — the national attire of the Philippines — while answering questions in Filipino.

Brownlee got praise from senators who appreciated his enthusiasm in answering queries and eagerness to represent the country in international games.

Sports aficionados want Brownlee naturalized as they believe the 34-year-old cager still has a lot to offer the country despite being in his mid-30s.

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Brownlee is not the first foreign basketball player to be naturalized.