MANILA, Philippines – Former and active professional basketball players hired by the Bureau of Customs as technical assistants acknowledged on Monday that they were not engaged in intelligence work in performing their functions in the bureau.
Their job mainly was in “community work”, including playing in friendly basketball games, to improve the image of the BOC, former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) cager Kenneth Duremdes said.
Duremdes, Marlou Aquino, Edward Joseph Feihl and several other players appeared at the legislative hearing of the House of Representatives dangerous drugs committee on Monday to explain their role. Some were hired under the Office of the Commissioner, while others were under the Intelligence Group.
The BOC engaged their services through Customs Special Order No. 58-2016 dated September 27, 2016.
As consultants or technical assistant, Feihl said he receives P40,000 a month, less taxes.
Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso warned of possible violation of law in their hiring because it was not aligned with the mandate of the bureau.
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said he believes the athletes were hired only to represent the bureau in basketball games.
“Ayaw namin kayong mabaon dito … Sana nga ‘wag na natin habulin ang mga taong ito dahil biktima rin sila (We don’t want to unnecessarily dwell on this. These athletes are innocent victims),” he said.
Fariñas chided Commissioner Faeldon: “Mga congressmen lang ang kalaro, seven-footer pa ang gagamitin niyo (Matched against congressmen in the games, Customs had to field a seven-footer).”