FORMER professional basketball player Marlou Aquino clarified on Saturday he and other cagers were hired by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) headed by Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon as sports technical assistants for the agency’s various projects since last year.
Aquino, 45, a hall of famer in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), explained the agency was not only competing in sports tournaments like basketball and volleyball but was also engaged in “social responsibility.”
“We were hired by the BoC as sports technical assistant last year and we are reporting to the office everyday,” Aquino, the 1996 PBA rookie of the year awardee, told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “We are doing basketball clinic in different places like in Subic and Davao.”
“We also donated basketball shoes and balls to aetas in Subic, Zambales recently,” the popular cager, who played for Ginebra, Sta. Lucia Realty and Meralco, added. “We are still with the BoC as sports technical assistant. Kenneth (Duremdes) is also a sports technical assistant just like me.”
The Adamson University alumnus said they are not regular employees. “I think there is a perception from the people that we are regular employees, but we’re not. We are all contractual or J.O. (Job Order) and we’re doing our job.”
The 6’9 behemoth also said they were qualified for the job that the BoC gave them.
“The commissioner (Faeldon) also told us that our hiring is legal. What we’re doing for BoC’s sports program is okay,” said Aquino, who is also a player of the BoC team together with other retired PBA players Duremdes and 7-footer EJ Feihl.
Popular volleyball player Alyssa Valdez, who played for the BoC in the V-League tournament last year, as well as Ateneo de Manila University assistant coach Sherwin Meneses declined to comment.
Former professional player Duremdes appeared in a news conference on Saturday with Faeldon, who defended the hiring of ex-cagers as consultants.
On Thursday, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas, Representatives Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Dakila Cua of Quirino questioned Faeldon’s decision to hire professional athletes and coaches as intelligence officers and personnel of the BoC under the office of the commissioner.
Aside from Aquino, Duremdes, Feihl, Meneses and Valdez, Customs hired Ronjay Enrile, Gherome Ejercito, former UST Tiger Michael Sumalinog, former Ateneo Lady Eagles assistant coach Parley Tupaz, former UP Lady Maroon Michiko Castañeda, former NU Lady Bulldog/Creamline player Rizza Mandapat and former Adamson player Fe Emnas.