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Spanish striker Bienvenido Marañon's naturalization process underway after House committee approval

United City FC striker Bienvenido Marañon's bid to become a naturalized Filipino citizen is underway after the House committee on Justice approved House Bill No. 7427 on Wednesday.

The bill, authored by Manila first district representative Rep. Manny Lopez, will open up the possibility for Marañon to suit up for the Philippine Azkals in international competitions.

Rep. Lopez argued that Marañon could be an invaluable asset to the Philippine Azkals in the explanatory note of the said bill.

"If granted the opportunity to play for the Philippines, Marañon will undoubtedly be an invaluable asset to the national football team, the Azkals, and bring pride and honor to our country," Lopez said.

Marañon explained his desire to become Filipino stems from his experience after six years playing in the Philippines.

"For me, I would like to be Filipino because I love the country, I love its people, and I feel too much love from its people," Marañon told the committee. "I would like to give them that love that I received."

The Spanish striker also reiterated his hopes of suiting up for the Azkals in international competition.

"I would like to play with Azkals, for the national team, because I feel as a Filipino since I arrived here in the Philippines," he said. "I would like to help them to try and reach the World Cup and play in the Asian Cup again and try to win the Suzuki Cup."

Marañon also bared his plans of founding a football academy in the country.

The bill was approved without opposition by the committee and will be sent to the plenary.

The 34-year old striker made his name in Asian football through his exploits with Filipino club Ceres-Negros FC. With the Bacolod-based club, Marañon became the all-time leading goal scorer of the AFC Cup after notching his 35th goal in the competition last March.

Ceres was sold to new management in 2020 and rebranded to United City FC. Marañon signed with United City for the abbreviated 2020 PFL Season and subsequently won the title and finished as the league's top scorer.