By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
I WAS stunned to learn that a national government entity like the Bureau of Customs (BOC) can hire some active or former athletes to the bureau for positions like technical assistant or as intelligence consultants. I thought only the barangay, municipal, city, provincial, regional and national governments are the only ones entitled to this state policy.
BOC is now the big issue in Congress because of the 6.4 billions of pesos worth of shabu from China that passed the ‘green lane’ under the watch of BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
The Congressmen in their hearing asked why BOC chief Faeldon took into service some ex-PBA cagers headed by then superstars Kenneth Duremdes, EJ Feihl, Jerome Ejercito and our kabaleyan Marlou Aquino to name some, plus lady spikers Alyssa Valdez and Andrea Marzan of the 28 personnel. And the question of many (including this writer) is: Why? Is this legal? Are they qualified as secret spies on the lookout for smugglers, or just plainly listed in the 15-30 payroll list?
Congress started to investigate this matter when deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu revealed on August 2 session that Customs czar Faeldon hired 28 such athletes last year and authorized his chief of staff, lawyer-accountant Mandy Therese Anderson “to sign the daily time record (DTR) of the athletes,” that surprised many congressmen headed by Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas. Called, the Congress grilled Duremdes, Aquino and Feihl and finally admitting that they have no workers’ DTR at the BOC, and explained that they were just assigned in the field.
I’m not a lawyer but as far as I know, Ms. Anderson made a big mistake signing the athletes’ DTR. By doing so, she’s liable for falsification of public documents. And maybe the 28 athletes could face criminal charges, too, as pointed out by former Court of Appeals justice and now Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso but Fariñas was quick to the rescue. Lenient and compassionate, Farinas said he wouldn’t want the PBA players be charged in court because the athletes are just victims of circumstances, unlike some BOC officials. But Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, however, said the issue might still be raised before the House committee on ways and means led by Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua.
I hope it doesn’t push through.
While I agree with Fariñas. he should also reprimand the athletes and direct them to function as mandated by their job description as officers of the bureau in order to justify their hiring and avoid further complications, and end up as mere 15-30 employees’ payroll for P50k.
So, I hope my fellow athletes and idols who were hired as BOC intelligence agents principally to combat smuggling inside the bureau, will shape up or better ship out to avoid tarnishing their public images and legacy that they left as well-known national dribblers. Like them, I was also a former sports provincial coordinator/consultant of former governors Aguedo Agbayani and Oscar Orbos and I know I did my job to the best of my ability and accomplished my assignments, very much like what’s happening today in the provincial sports council headed by Modesto Operania, under the leadership of our sports-minded Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino lll. As a sportsman, I’ve avoided any activity that could taint my public image, and nobody can accuse me of having been a 15-30 employee.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 1 TIMOTHY 6: 17