THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has hired 28 athletes, among them former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) stars Jherome Ejercito, Edward Joseph “EJ” Fiel, Marlou Aquino and Kenneth Duremdes, as technical consultants and intelligence agents.

Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon earlier told lawmakers in an inquiry on the smuggling of some P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs that the PBA players were hired as intelligence agents to combat smuggling.

This is one for the books. If someone thought of hiring athletes as intelligence agents before, smuggling would have been a thing of the past.

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Fiehl said they receive a monthly pay of P40,000 through a Landbank payroll account.

Asked by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo if he had provided any intelligence information to the bureau, Fiehl said none as their work as players was more on image-building for the BOC.

Another PBA star, Kenneth Duremdes, said they are doing community work to convince the public that the BOC is no longer corruption-ridden.

They play basketball to convince the public the BOC is now corruption-free.

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Well, Filipinos love basketball. If you look around your neighborhood, you’ll find the ubiquitous basketball court, with goals donated by some politicians. Some basketball courts even have only one goal.

But I just wonder if there are no steals in basketball, like in baseball when one can steal a base.

Wikipedia said a steal in basketball occurs when a defensive player legally causes a turnover by his positive, aggressive actions by deflecting and controlling or by catching the opponent’s pass or dribble of an offensive player.

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Customs Commissioner Faeldon said these athletes would have been the “most effective intelligence information gatherers” because nobody expects them to be gathering information for the bureau.

“But today, they are no longer effective because they have been exposed. They will never be effective. Their covers have been exposed,” he said.