Lawmakers grill athletes in Customs bureau

  • Written by JPM
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ONE year since their appointment to the Bureau of Customs (BoC) as technical assistants, the professional basketball and volleyball players have not yet provided any intelligence information to the agency.

This was disclosed at yesterday’s continuation of the legislative probe by the committee on dangerous drugs on the seized 605 kilos of shabu, amounting to P6.4 billion that avoided BoC inspection.
Invited to testify before the House inquiry were Kenneth Duremdes, Marlou Aquino, EJ Feihl and other professional basketball players, after it was disclosed during the last hearing that they were hired as consultants of the BoC but the real purpose was to have them play on the BoC’s basketball team in a league.
According to Duremdes, Aquino and Feihl, their contract indicated that aside from playing basketball for the BoC team, they were hired by BoC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to help the BoC build a good image for the agency.
“Ako ay hired as technical assistant for special events, more on public engagement, and disseminate information about the BoC. Gusto kasi ni Commissioner Faeldon na mapalapit sa tao ang BoC,” Duremdes said.
For his part, Feihl told members of the committee that they were undergoing training for intelligence gathering.
But when asked if they have already provided intelligence report or information about illegal activities involving tax payment, they admitted they had not.
The players have been receiving at least P40,000 a month since they were hired last August 2016.
Faeldon’s chief of staff Atty. Mandy Anderson said the contract of these players were not renewed, however they are still being paid by the BoC.
Anderson stressed that their salaries were sourced from the personnel services funds.
Leyte Rep. Vincente Veloso warned Anderson that these players may be charged with technical malversation through direct participation if they continue to be on the payroll of the BoC.
“Hindi namin pakay na ipakulong kayo, ang sinasabi ko lang baka maestablish  na  may technical malversation, baka may direct participation,” Veloso said.
Veloso also slammed the BoC for hiring the athletes to do public relations and to win a basketball league championship.
“Kung gusto lang manalo sa basketball, labas na yan sa function ng Customs na mag-collect ng buwis” he added.
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas on the other hand appealed to the House members to spare the players from possible cases but rather consider them as victims.
“I sympathize with you athletes, siguro let’s just spare them, they are the victims here too,” Fariñas said.
The House leader asked if the athletes have daily time record (DTR), to which they responded “none.”
It was revealed that Anderson signed their DTRs which Fariñas said is falsification of public documents.
Under the Customs Special Order No. 58-2016, Faeldon’s chief of staff Atty. Anderson was authorized to sign the daily time record of these customs personnel.
Aside from Duremdes; Aquino and Feihl, also appointed in the BOC are  Dave Arguelles;   Dante Canaway; Ronjay Enreli; Gherome Ejercito; Bong dela Cruz;  Ed Bundoc; Mark Mabazza; Rizal Vonn Ignacio; Samuel Ignacio; Berzon Franco; Michael Anthony Sumalinog; Parley Tupaz; Sherwin Meneses; Marlin Llagoso;  Carl Bryan Vitug; Danielle Michiko Castaneda;  Menchie Tubiera; Andrea Marzan;  Rizza Jane Mandapat;  Jonalyn Ibisa; Fenela Risha Emnas; Joshua Esguerra; Jonah Joy Corpuz;  Cyrine Gonzaga and Alyssa Valdez.