Though the University Athletic Association of the Philippines only classifies its student-athletes as either Filipino citizens or foreigners, Angelo Kouame’s case will be different once he becomes naturalized.
According to Atty. Rebo Saguisag, the league’s executive director, the Ivorian’s process of becoming a Filipino is different compared to past circumstances.
“What makes the situation of Mr. Kouame different, if granted, is it’s an act of Congress,” Saguisag told Power & Play.
In an article by Tiebreaker Times, it cited two cases wherein a student-athlete was able to obtain Filipino citizenship and thus be classified as a local by the UAAP.
Back in 2004, Cassie Tioseco, whose parents are Filipino, was an FSA since she only had a Canadian passport with her. A year later, the 5-foot-11 forward — who ended up winning two UAAP MVP trophies — became Filipino.
Tyler Tio, on the other hand, was born to Canadian citizens in Manila. The 5-foot-11 guard was naturalized in May of 2017.
Kouame’s naturalization is going through congress with Antipolo City 1st District representative Robbie Puno filing House Bill No. 5951 while Senator Sonny Angara has also filed Senate Bill 1892.
“It’s opposed to the other types of re-acquisition of citizenship or naturalization na judicial or administrative, na medyo mas stringent ang requirements,” continued Saguisag about Kouame’s case, as he is being naturalized for Gilas Pilipinas.
“At the very least, alam natin na may konting distinction ito sa ibang precedents before.”
Saguisag shared that the league’s Board of Managing Directors has yet to discuss the matter.
But once they do, the amiable executive, who is also a councilor in Makati, shared that the BMD will decide with fairness and national interest in mind.
“Until and when it comes, hindi pa siya ma-address. Baka iba ang situwasyon kasi after all, ang spirit na tinitignan natin dito is fair play. We’ll see.”