ANGE Kouame's naturalization bill has passed through the second reading in the House of Representatives.
The House Plenary approved House Bill No. 8632 on Monday which seeks to give Filipino citizenship to the Ivorian center, putting him a step closer to become the naturalized player in the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
"I thank my colleagues for the swift approval on second reading of House Bill No. 8632, and I anticipate its quick passage on third and final reading shortly," said principal author and Deputy Speaker Rep. Robbie Puno.
"We can say we are definitely much closer to naturalizing yet another star athlete for our national team."
The Antipolo First District congressman, who is also the vice chairman of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), has been the biggest proponent of Kouame's bid to become a full-fledged Filipino as the federation seeks to parade him as early as the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia this August.
"I am hopeful that Ange Kouame will become a Philippine citizen just in time for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup as well as the 2023 FIBA World Cup," he said.
Puno's House Bill No. 5951 was substituted by House Bill No. 8632 and is now pending with the House's rules committee.
Kouame's naturalization needs to pass one more reading in the House of Representatives.
It also has a similar bill in the Senate filed by SBP chairman Sen. Sonny Angara, with Senate Bill No. 1892 still pending in the upper house as of Nov. 9, 2020.
Once approved in both chambers, Kouame will only need the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to gain his Filipino citizenship.