MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino on Monday lamented the exodus of Filipino talents to other countries, as he proposed legislation that would “retrieve” them and attract more talents to the Philippines.
Tolentino raised this as the Senate tackled the naturalization bills of Ivorian basketball player Angelo Kouame and Spanish football striker Bienvenido Marañon.
Naturalization is a step required for the athletes to compete under the Philippine flag. The bills are being sponsored by Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate justice committee.
“We have lost a lot of opportunities,” Tolentino said, citing Filipina basketball player Jack Danielle Animam, who he said is now a number one player in a university in Taiwan, as well as Super Grandmaster Wesley So, who recently secured a U.S. citizenship.
The senator also pointed to the Filipino engineer from Baguio, who was part of the team that ensured Perseverance rover made a safe landing on Mars last month.
“It really pains us to see a lot of Filipino talents wasted…Is it possible for the good sponsor (Gordon) and some of our other colleagues if we just frame a general administrative law that would net capture all of our prospects whether it be chess, basketball, gymnastics and retrieve back our scientist, those part of those Mars Perseverance program, retrieve back probably Wesley So,” Tolentino said.
“Is the good sponsor amenable to crafting a general measure to instead of just handpicking individual good sports prospects that would have a lesser demanding procedural administrative law that would get all of this,” he added.
Tolentino also mentioned how the Philippines “lost six Fil-Ams” during the 2021 PBA Draft due to “burdens imposed” by the Bureau of Immigration.
“These are mere paperworks, so is the good sponsor willing to craft a general administrative law that would allow us to get talents abroad and redeem back Filipino athletes and scientists,” the senator said.
Gordon said he would be willing to look into Tolentino’s suggestion and “come up with a change in our citizenship and immigration laws provided that the respective citizens that we’re going to get would not just be beneficial to us in sports but in the sciences.”
“I think we should do and try to come up with something that we can adjust so that we become and we are able to attract the best and the brightest,” Gordon added.
The Senate has so far approved Marañon’s naturalization bill on second reading. The chamber, meanwhile, is eyeing the second reading approval of Kouame’s naturalization bill on Tuesday, pending some amendments.
Next week, both naturalization bills are expected to be passed on third and final reading in the Senate.