ALMOST FILIPINO. Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee is all smiles as the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights concludes its proceedings on his naturalization bid on Monday (Nov. 21, 2022). Brownlee may secure the approval of the Senate by December. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Monday approved the naturalization bid of Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee and referred his application to the plenary.

The committee recommended for deliberation Senate Bills 1336 and 1526, filed by Senators Ronald Dela Rosa and Sonny Angara, respectively, that seek to grant Filipino citizenship to Brownlee and allow him to join the national team to the FIBA World Cup next year.

Brownlee, 34, told the senators that his naturalization will allow him to reciprocate the love and support that he is getting from Filipinos.

"Coming here in 2016 and I mean, right off the bat, just received so much love, admiration from the fans. I couldn't believe it. It was overwhelming and just wearing that flag seems like it allows me to give back to the people, the fans," Brownlee said.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Sonny Barrios confirmed Brownlee's good reputation in the Philippine Basketball Association.

"Sinisiguro po namin na makabubuti po siya sa ating national team at ikinararangal po namin na i-propose po siya for naturalization because, ‘yung nasabi nga ni Sen. Bato [Dela Rosa], ‘yung kanyang character eh talagang kapuri-puri po (We assure you that he will make our national team better and we are proud to recommend him for naturalization because, as Sen. Bato said, his character is admirable)," Barrios said.

Committee chair Senator Francis Tolentino said Brownlee may secure the approval by December.

“We’ve seen Brownlee’s attitude so far for the last six years so makakatulong ito dahil (it will help because) with this character, with his skills, and with his attitude siguro puwede siyang gayahin ng mga kabataang Pilipino (maybe he can be a role model to our Filipino youth," Tolentino said.

When asked by Dela Rosa if he is willing to join the government in its anti-drug campaign, Brownlee gladly agreed.

"Opo (Yes), for sure," the Ginebra power forward said.

Dela Rosa said it will become one of Brownlee's moral obligations once he is granted Filipino citizenship.

A counterpart measure in the House of Representatives was already approved in the committee level on Nov. 16. (PNA)