FORMER Negros-Ceres Football Club topscorer Bienverido Morejon Marañon is inching closer to his bid to become a naturalized Filipino citizen, following the approval on third and final reading by the House of Representatives of House Bill (HB) 8631 late Tuesday night this week.
The lower chamber’s approval of HB 8631, which was defended by House Justice Committee chairman, Representative Vicente Veloso III during the plenary, was confirmed by Bacolod City Lone District Representative Greg Gasataya, one of the original authors of the Spanish football ace's bid for Filipino citizenship.
"The concurrence of the House to grant Marañon's naturalization is a recognition of his invaluable contributions to Philippine football since he donned the national colors in multiple international outings during the last five years," Gasataya, who is also vice-chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said.
HB 8631, which was presented by Veloso before the plenary, is the substitute bill of Gasataya's HB 8144, Manila Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez's HB 7427 and Representatives Yedda Marie Romualdez and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez's HB 7284.
Marañon, who now plays for the Manila-based United City FC after the Negros-Ceres FC, folded up, is the most prolific player, scoring-wise, in inter-club championships in Southeast Asia.
Gasataya also noted that he is the leading scorer of the Philippine Football League and the all-time top scorer in the Asian Football Confederation Cup after registering his 35th goal in the Negros-Ceres' 4-0 triumph versus the Bali United of Indonesia on March 11, 2020.
The Spanish striker is also credited as the catalyst for the Philippine football movement's reputation as a powerhouse team in the region.
Also co-authoring the bill together with 16 other congressmen were Ilongga Representative Sharon Garin and Second District Representative Leo Rafael Cueva, who cited that Marañon, when he was still based in Negros Occidental, had outreach programs for the youth of Sagay City and Bacolod City.
Marañon is currently back in his town in Cadiz, Spain.
Once naturalized as a Filipino, Marañon will be given all the rights, privileges and prerogatives, as well as the duties and obligations as a citizen, the bill said.
HB 8631 also provides that upon taking oath of allegiance to the Republic before an officer duly authorized for the pursuit and registration of the same with the Bureau of Immigration and the issuance to him of the Certificate of Naturalization, Marañon shall enter upon the full enjoyment of Philippine citizenship.