Two senior administration congressmen, both respected legal eagles in the House of Representatives, on Thursday declared that NBA basketball star Jordan Clarkson of Utah Jazz is a Filipino citizen, thus, should be part of the national team competing in world basketball tournaments.

Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz reacts to a three point basket against San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 07, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images / AFP)

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso aired this legal opinion following the approval by the Committee on Justice of the panel report recommending the approval of bill proposing to grant Filipino citizenship to Spanish professional footballer Bienvenido “Bienve” Maranon and Ateneo Blue Eagles star player Angelo “Ange” Koume of Ivory.

Reacting to a statement made by Deputy Speaker and Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno on issues raised against Clarkson’s inclusion in the national team, Rodriguez said that being the son of a Filipino mother, the NBA star is considered a citizen.

During the committee deliberations, Puno disclosed that countries competing in tournaments sanctioned by the International Basketball Association (FIBA) are limited to just one naturalized player in its 12-man roster.

With Koume, a center, already expected to fill one slot, Clarkson, one of NBA’’s best shooting guard,  may no longer be included in the Philippine team even if granted citizenship by Congress.

“Talaga naman Filipino si Clarkson but they (FIBA) have this rule against countries who are capable of cheating,” explained Puno.

FIBA reportedly bars players from competing in international tournaments if they are holders of a second passport issued after they reach the age of 16.

Rodriguez and Veloso pointed out that Clarkson’s case is different because he is, under Philippine laws, is a Filipino.

“No need for naturalization because he will be considered a Filipino.  We are ready to call the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration to issue him (Clarkson) a certificate of recognition,” said Rodriguez, former dean of the San Sebastian College of Law.

A retired Court of Appeals magistrate, Veloso pointed out that there is no longer any need for further legal action to declare Clarkson a Filipino.  He stressed that the 1986 Constitution considers Clarkson natural born citizen of the Philippines.

Puno, who authored the bill granting Koume citizenship, vowed to attempt to convince the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to exempt Clarkson’s case from the stringent qualification rules imposed by it.

The justice panel asked Puno and Deputy Speaker Eric Martinez of Valenzuela City to pursue Clarkson’s inclusion in the Philippine team. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (