MANILA, Aug. 3 — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has allegedly hired several sports personalities, including former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) standouts, as “technical assistants” and “intelligence officers”.
Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu bared this before a congressional hearing on the PHP6.4 billion peso shabu (crystal meth) smuggling controversy hounding the Customs Bureau.
Abu presented Customs Special Order No. 58 series of 2016 which contained a list of 28 “Customs personnel,” known for their background in basketball and volleyball, including former PBA stars like Kenneth Duremdes, Marlo Aquino, Dave Arguelles, and Edward Joseph (EJ) Fiehl, among others.
Some of the sports persons named in the list were assigned to the Office of the Commissioner while some were detailed to the Intelligence Group of the Bureau.
The special order also noted that Atty. Mandy Therese Anderson, staff of Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, was authorized to sign the daily time record of those in the list.
In an ambush interview on Thursday, Abu said Faeldon admitted to him that the players were indeed hired by the BOC.
“May nagpadala sa akin na mga dokumento kung sino yung mga hinire. Nagulat ako na nag-hire pala ito ng mga empleyado na siya naming nakakalaban noon sa UNTV (league),” Abu said.
Abu said he wanted to find out the qualifications of these hired personnel and if they could raise the quality of service in the BOC.
Abu said he had requested the BOC for the 201 files of the said employees.
For his part, House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chairman Robert Ace Barbers slammed Faeldon for hypocrisy after this revelation.
Earlier, Faeldon hit lawmakers for alleged influence peddling in the hiring or promotion of certain BOC employees, claiming this impairs his efforts to reform the agency and rid it of corruption.
“Look who’s talking! Faeldon tarnished the reputation of the entire House of Representatives by insinuating that lawmakers are endorsing promotions or employment to the bureau of certain personnel,” Barbers said.
“Yet, it turned out he has employed sports people with dubious qualifications for their position,” he added.
Barbers noted that Faeldon had rejected a recommendation for a certain Sandy Sacluti for allegedly being “unqualified for the post” despite obtaining a masters degree in customs administration and ranking seventh in a personnel competency assessment of customs personnel in January.
“Yet, Faeldon hired basketball and volleyball players to work at the Intelligence Group of the bureau. How many of these people are really qualified for intelligence work? No wonder, Customs bungled the handling of evidence in the seizure of the PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu smuggled right though their noses,” Barbers said.
Barbers stressed that there is nothing irregular for lawmakers to endorse the employment or promotion of personnel in the bureau, particularly if they possess sufficient qualifications for the position.
He added that the discretion is left to the head of the office whether to act favorably or disregard the endorsement. (Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA)