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Solons score Faeldon’s hirings

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon took more beatings from lawmakers following the discovery of documents indicating that he has given employment preference to dozens of retired and active professional basketball and volleyball players over ordinary job applicants.

Facing congressional investigation in connection with the smuggling into the country of P6.4 billion worth of shabu, Faeldon was roundly criticized during Wednesday’s House Committee on Ways and Means hearing for allegedly taking several basketball and volleyball stars in the BoC payroll.

Among those reportedly hired as technical assistants by the BoC are retired Philippine Basketball Association stars Kenneth Duremdes, Marlou Aquino, and EJ Feihl.

Other former basketball stars hired and assigned to the Office of the Commissioner and the Intelligence Division were Gherome Ejercito, Micahel Sumalinog, and Bong de la Cruz.

In Customs Special Order No. 58-2016, the BoC also assigned volleyball personalities Parley Tupaz, Sherwin Meneses, Michico Castaneda, Rizza Mandapat, and Fe Emnas to the two offices. Volleyball superstar Allysa Valdez is also in the list.

The order assigned lawyer Mandy Therese M. Anderson, Faeldon’s chief of staff, to sign their daily time record “in the interest of service.”

House Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu brought the issue to the attention of the ways and means panel as he chided Faeldon for being a “hypocrite.”

“I doubt if these basketball and volleyball stars are even qualified to deserve a BoC job,” said Abu.

Faeldon and Anderson have chided House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez for allegedly demanding the promotion of a BoC personnel that the two officials rejected for being “unqualified.”

Faeldon has come under fire for his alleged incompetence in the handling of the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that had apparently gone undetected at the BoC.

In yesterday’s ways and means committee hearing, Faeldon came face-to-face with lawyer Larribert Hilario, the BoC risk management chief whom the commissioner has claimed to have disappeared in the wake of the congressional probe.

Under suspension on orders of Faeldon, Hilario said the shabu shipment from China could have been prevented had the Import Assessment Services agreed to grant his request to place the importation under alert.

Hilario, tagged by House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo T. Fariñas as a witness, was relieved by Faeldon as the controversy came to public knowledge, it was reported.

“Noong May 22, 2017, napansin po namin sa RMO (Risk Management Office) na si Customs Broker TJ Marcellana ay nag-lodge ng iba’t ibang import entries. Itong si Marcellana ay mayron nang previous derogatory records sa BoC,” Hilario told lawmakers during the hearing.

According to Hilario, he had sought an alert order against EMT Trading’s shipment. But the IAS did not accommodate it.

After Marcellana made the import entries for the shipment, he said he began to sense irregularities. Hilario accused Customs Director for IAS Milo Maestrecampo of dismissing the request for him to issue an alert order.

“I asked the Import Assessment Service (IAS) for the issuance of the alert order (for the consignee) EMT Trading,” he told the panel chaired by Rep. Dakila Cua (PDP-Laban, Quirino).

Hilario said only Maestrecampo could have issued an alert order “but he said he would not act on my request.”