Monday, May 26, 2014

Senate grants Philippine citizenship to Brooklyn Nets Center Andray Blatche

MANILA-The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill granting Philippine Citizenship to American professional basketball player Andray Blatche, who is a member of the Brooklyn Nets, the National Baskekball Association (NBA).

Committee Report No. 27 on House Bill No. 4084, sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara was approved with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and zero abstention.

“The recent modest ascent in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) standings is indicative of the development of Philippine basketball in the international scene, which ought to be sustained,” Angara said.

“International tournaments allow countries to be represented by naturalized players subject to certain conditions like the number of naturalized players in a team. Other countries, while ranking higher than the Philippines, have opted to take advantage of this naturalized-player rule, meant to equalize the world basketball landscape historically ruled by American and European countries, with great benefit,” Angara added.

Blatche is not the first international player to become a naturalized Filipino citizen. In 1985, three naturalized players, namely Dennis Still, Jeff Moore and Chip Engelland helped the RP-North Consolidated Corporation win the William Jones Cup and the ABC Championships. Another naturalized player, Marcus Eugene Douthit, who became a naturalized Filipino in 2010, helped bring honor to the Philippines by helping the Philippine team win the 2010 Philippine Invitational Cup, 3rd place in the 2010 William Jones Cup and 2012 William Jones Cup Championship.

Blatche is currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and Paul Pierce. Blatche, who stands 6’11,” averages 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Fresh out of high school, Blatche was drafted to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2005 where he was chosen 49th overall by the Washington Wizards. He was eventually released by the Wizards in 2012 and was signed up by the Nets.

“Andray Blatche has openly expressed his desire to play for the Philippines. He is in a position, at age 28, to make significant contributions to Philippine basketball and accordingly, eligible for the conferment of the honor of being a Philippine citizen,” Angara said.

Blatche will be part of the 24-man roster of the Smart Gilas Basketball where the final 12 players will be chosen to compete in the FIBA world championships this August in Spain. (Olive Caunan)


MANILA-The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill introduced by Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara that would confer Philippine citizenship on American professional basketball player Andray Blatche, in effect clearing the way for him to help the Philippine national basketball team that will compete in the FIBA World Championships in Spain this August.
"Blatche is possibly the best center from the NBA that we can get who is willing to shun more lucrative offers now and in the future just to be part of our national team," stressed Angara, who said that the Brooklyn Nets big man's documents will now be transmitted to the Office of the President for the chief executive's signing.
Angara expressed gratitude to his colleagues, particularly Senate Justice Committee Chair Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano for the swift passage of Senate Bill 2108.
"This was indeed a total team effort on the part of the Senate. Credits are due to both the majority and minority blocs for supporting this measure, which to my mind, is the Senate's own way of contributing to the cause of our basketball team," he pointed out, mentioning also Senate President Franklin Drilon, and Senators Tito Sotto and Jinggoy Estrada.
Blatche, who averages 12 points and six rebounds, will also be allowed to backstop the country in other major international basketball tournaments, including the Asian Games that will be held in September this year in South Korea and in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
For accepting to be part of the Philippine basketball squad, Blatche will be forever prohibited to join any other foreign national team.
"Having naturalized players is the rule in international competitions rather than the exception. It's very accepted. We are just taking advantage of the rule," said the neophyte senator, who chairs the committee on games, amusement and sports.
The House of Representatives, through the efforts of Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno, has approved the application of Blatche last month.
The 6-foot-11 American isn’t the first foreign player to be given Philippine citizenship.
Americans Arthur "Chip" Engelland, Jeff Moore and Dennis Still were naturalized in the 1980s to help the Philippine men’s basketball team to win the Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA Asia Championship) crown in 1985.
Also, another American, Marcus Douthit, who was naturalized in 2011, contributed a lot in bringing back the country to the international basketball map as it helped the squad to qualify for the World Championships by placing second in last year's FIBA Asia tournament, beating Asian powerhouse and RP's perennial nemesis South Korea in the semifinal game.
"We took a leap of faith when we naturalized Marcus Douthit, and that leap of faith paid dividends. We are hoping this would be a similar case with Andray Blatche," Angara said.
The lawmaker also dismissed concerns that having naturalized players would stunt our local players, saying that on the contrary, it would definitely help our local players.
"Since our local players will be playing against bona fide professional NBA players, they will be forced to improve. It's like we're putting them in a competitive atmosphere. Great players make other players even better," he argued.
"This is the first time in 40 years that the Philippine team will play once again in the world basketball tournament. We are number 34 in the world basketball ranking and yet, we made it to the FIBA World Championships, which is the top 24 teams in the world. Given this rare opportunity, we should do everything we can to give our national team the best representation and the best chance to win," Angara added. 

File Charges Against Employer of Abused OFW in Saudi, Legarda Tells PHL Gov’t

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today urged the Philippine government to pursue charges against those responsible for the abuse of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Pahima Alagasi Palacasi.  

Through a Senate Resolution, Legarda urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to exercise the Doctrine of Parens Patriae in pursuing the filing of the appropriate charges against the employer, recruitment agency and other individuals responsible for the abuse against Palacasi.

The Doctrine of Parens Patriae is defined as the inherent power and authority of the state to provide protection to every citizen especially to those persons who are incapable of defending themselves due to their limited capability.

Palacasi, a domestic helper in Riyadh, sustained second-degree burns from her back down to her legs after her employer scalded her with boiling water.

Photos of the maltreated OFW went viral on social networking sites, triggering uproar among netizens who are now calling for justice.

The inhumane treatment inflicted on Ms. Palacasi is a clear case that deserves immediate action by the government through legal action. The individuals who are responsible for such cruel conduct deserve a distinct place in jail,” Legarda said.

The Senator said that such drastic action against Palacasi’s perpetrators will serve as a stern warning against abusive employers of OFWs and a deterrent to the rampant practice of maltreatment suffered by Filipinos especially those in the vulnerable household service sector.

“The government’s action on this case will send a strong message to the more than two million OFWs abroad that the Philippine government is absolutely serious in uplifting their rights even in a foreign jurisdiction,” Legarda concluded.

PNoy appoints Bulacan Governor as RDC Chair

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado as chair of the Central Luzon Regional Development Council (RDC).
RDC Vice Chair and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Severino Santos made the announcement Friday.
RDC 3 is the highest policy-making body in Central Luzon and serves as the counterpart of the NEDA Board at the subnational level.
It is the primary institution that coordinates and sets the direction of all economic and social development efforts in the region and serves as a forum where local efforts can be related and integrated with national development activities.
Council members include all governors, city mayors, municipal mayors of capital towns, presidents of municipal mayors’ league, regional directors of national government agencies and representatives from the private sector. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)


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