Athletes focused on ‘image-building’ of BOC

MANILA-- The athletes who were hired at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said their function is aimed at promoting a reformed image of the agency to the public.

During the House dangerous drugs committee's inquiry on the PHP6.4-billion drug shipment on Monday, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) athlete Edward Joseph Fiehl admitted that as BOC employee he has not performed any intelligence functions at the bureau.

Fiehl, however, noted that the athletes, who were hired either as intelligence officers or technical assistants, were focused more on the image-building of the agency.

'Yung work naming players, more on image-building ng bureau, Fiehl said.

Kenneth Duremdes, another former PBA star hired by the BOC, said the athletes were doing some community work to convince the public that the needed reforms in the graft-ridden bureau have been implemented.

Madali lang po silang (public) kausap. Mas madali silang bigyan ng information sa reform sa bureau at seryoso ang Bureau of Customs sa anti-corruption, Duremdes said.

During the same hearing, BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon's chief of staff, Atty. Mandy Anderson, said the athletes were hired as technical assistants for special activities.

Anderson also admitted that they were hired by Faeldon himself.

They weren't hired as athletes. They were hired as technical assistants for special activities, Anderson said.

According to Budget Director Henry Torres of the Financial Management Office, the salaries for these hired athletes were sourced from the agency's maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

Other sports personalities who were hired at the BOC in various positions include ex-PBA star Marlou Aquino, Dave Arguelles, and volleyball player Alyssa Valdez, among others.

Faeldon skipped the House probe into the multi-billion shabu (crystal meth) shipment controversy hounding the bureau due to a "dental emergency".

Source: Philippine News Agency