Despite acquiring Filipino citizenship, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines will not classify Angelo Kouame as a local.
The UAAP’s Board of Managing Directors already agreed on a new rule saying that any student-athlete who obtains their Filipino citizenship through Congress will remain classified as a foreigner by the league.
The league’s Board of Trustees will approve the ruling next week, according to multiple sources closely monitoring the situation.
“The league’s BMD has already reached an agreement that the only naturalization process that will not be granted local status is if it’s through Congress,” said a league insider to Tiebreaker Times.
Prior to this, the league only classified its student-athletes either as locals or as foreigners. Only one foreign student-athlete may compete in a varsity team, except for 3×3 basketball and beach volleyball — events that will no longer allow foreigners on the court.
However, Kouame’s case is an extraordinary one.
In the past, student-athletes considered foreigners but who eventually gained local status could achieve this through recognition or by virtue of Republic Act No. 9139.
RA 9139 allows “aliens under the age of 18 who were born in the Philippines, who have resided in the Philippines and have resided therein since birth, and who possess other specified qualifications, to be granted Philippine citizenship by administrative proceeding subject to certain requirements.”
Kouame, on the other hand, only arrived in the Philippines when he was 18 years of age.
During his first two years with the Blue Eagles, the 6-foot-11 big man played as a foreign student-athlete.
With Gilas needing a naturalized player, both the House of Representatives and the Senate proposed separate bills to naturalize Kouame for “national interest” early 2020. It was put into law on Monday evening.
With this, Ateneo or any other university who will have a student-athlete that was able to gain Filipino citizenship through Congress will still have to plug them as their foreign player and will not be allowed to field another foreign student-athlete.