Sen. Tolentino convenes Senate Committee to tackle Boatwright naturalization
Published on May 7, 2024

Senator Francis Tolentino on Monday, May 6, convened the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights for a consultative meeting regarding the naturalization of Bennie Boatwright.

The hearing came a few days after Senator Sonny Angara filed Senate Bill No. 2646, which seeks to grant Filipino citizenship to the 27-year-old former USC Trojan.

The bill read in part: “Boatwright III has also embraced the love and support of Filipinos and has expressed a strong willingness to continue playing for the Philippines not only in the PBA but also in the world’s stage which would — in turn — be very beneficial to Philippine basketball as we continue to improve our global standing.”

Angara serves as chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the national federation for amateur basketball.

Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno, vice chairman of SBP, will file the counterpart measure in the House of Representatives.

With Boatwright during the hearing were SBP executive director Erika Dy and Gilas Pilipinas team manager Richard del Rosario.

Also in attendance were representatives from the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, Office of the Solicitor General and the Philippine National Police, who explained their roles in the naturalization process and confirmed that Boatwright has no derogatory complaints filed against him in their agencies, pending or otherwise.

Attesting to Boatwright’s good character, Dy said “working with him has been seamless as he is a responsible individual complying with all that is required of him.”

The SBP official added: “He also has not requested for any VIP treatment whatsoever…humble, down to earth, mild mannered and also never really complained to referees during his stint with San Miguel Beer [in the PBA]. No technicals to our recollection, which says a lot about his character.”

Upon questioning by Sen. Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, Del Rosario attested that like Justin Brownlee, Gilas’ current naturalized player, Boatwright “is a 10.0 when it comes to attitude and character.”

Other than Boatwright, Dy also confirmed to Sen. Tolentino that the SBP program has identified another candidate for naturalization for the Philippine women’s team – Favour Onoh of the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, a scholar at UP Diliman standing 6-foot-4 and the 2023 UAAP Rookie of the Year.

At the hearing’s conclusion, Sen. Tolentino brought Boatwright to the session hall to be recognized.