Documents obtained by Palawan News indicated that a city councilor and several other barangay captains in Puerto Princesa City had engaged with GSMAXX on a botched sub-contracting project in Luzon that resulted in the stranding of several hundred workers in September last year.
According to some of these officials, they allegedly had an agreement with the company to divide the profit from a major tower construction project for Dito Telecommunity Corporation that GSMAXX would be providing.
The project, however, failed to push through, resulting in the stranding of over 200 workers who traveled to Norzagaray, Bulacan from Puerto Princesa City beginning in September last year at the behest of the company, expecting to find work.
Palawan News sought an opinion from the City Legal Office (CLO) on whether there was a conflict of interest involved in the participation of local officials in a project with GSMAXX, a private company awarded multiple contracts by the city government for its major infrastructure projects.
“I will respectfully decline to comment. It appears that this matter is outside the mandate of my office,” Atty. Norman Yap, City Legal Officer, stated in a text message on February 2.
The city councilor included in GSMAXX’s list of sub-contractors declined to be interviewed.
Rex Ruta, the former spokesperson of GSMAXX who left the company in protest over the fiasco, said he was not aware of why the company encouraged local officials to undertake the sub-contracting.
“I have no concrete idea kung bakit mga kapitan ang majority na ni-recruit para maging general coordinator. Basta ang alam ko, si Kap Ryan Abueme ang unang nakausap regarding the cellsite project ni GSMAXX Nagulat na lang rin ako na mami-meet ko ang mga kapitan doon at iba pang higher officials,” Ruta said in a Facebook post.
“Lagi lang nababanggit kasi ni Mr. [Sammy James] Sioson (company president) din noon na mas tiwala siya sa mga naging kaibigan niya na raw dito sa Palawan at gusto niya matulungan na yumaman kahit hindi na raw kumandidato pa ulit sa barangay,” he added.
According to Ryan Abueme, one of the barangay captains engaged by GSMAXX, the company promised to give each of the sub-contractors a set of tower projects where they were to make a net profit of around half a million pesos for each tower. He also stated that the company would receive a 5% profit share.
“P8-million daw ang project cost ng bawat tower. Kukuha lang daw ang GSMAXX ng 5 percent. That’s 400k, as per sa computation nya bawas na lahat materyales, pasahod,” he said.
Palawan News also sought clarification from GSMAXX vice president, Engr. Ferdinand Delera, on its engagement with city officials but had not received a reply.
Delera, in an earlier press briefing, claimed the company was not at fault for sending the workers to Bulacan and that such a decision was made solely by the sub-contractors.
GSMAXX holds around P1.2-billion worth of projects with the city government. Its most notable projects include the smart streetlight system, the COVID-19 treatment and isolation facility in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, and additional structures at the New Public Market in Brgy. San Jose.