AMONG other functions, some of the former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players hired by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) were performing intelligence work that effectively helped the bureau in law enforcement.
“Why are EJ [Edward Joseph] Feihl and some of the PBA players in the intelligence [service]? They do not know anything about intelligence. That is precisely why they are there. Why? Because nobody expects them to be gathering information for the bureau,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said in a media briefing on Friday.
“So they are the most effective information gatherer because no one expects them to be there,” he added.
Faeldon pointed out though that the ex-PBA players were no longer effective today because their cover has been exposed.
Based on Customs Special Order (CSO) 58-2016, there are a total of 27 athletes hired by the bureau under its so-called Personnel Development Program with salary ranging from P20,000 to P45,000.
Of the total number, six of them are assigned to the intelligence group. They are Feihl, Segundo dela Cruz, Ed Bundoc, Mark Mabazza, Rizal Vonn Ignacio and Samuel Ignacio.
Aside from their covert function as data and intelligence gatherers, Faeldon said the ex-PBA players also serve as “ambassadors of goodwill” because they are very effective in telling the people about reforms in the bureau.
Faeldon noted that because of the bad image of the BoC, not even a true-blooded Customs employee who knows everything about the bureau can convince people to listen to them talking about reforms.
“I believe that every reform we will institute in the bureau will never succeed unless the people themselves support it. We need to bring effective communicators, so I called on the [ex-PBA] players like Kenneth Duremdes and Marlou Aquino who have millions of Filipino followers because Filipinos love basketball,” he said.