THE suspension of a mayor of a small town in another province would on any other day not attract much attention in Cebu. However, when SunStar Cebu on May 16 reported that Siaton Mayor Cezanne Fritz Diaz had yet to serve a three-month suspension, the penalty imposed by the Ombudsman eight months ago after finding Diaz guilty of simple neglect of duty, it raised eyebrows. After all, only a few days earlier, Michael Rama, the mayor of the most populous city in the Visayas, had been preventively suspended. A little over a week after Ombudsman Samuel Martires signed the suspension order and only a few days after the shocking news hit Cebu City, Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia was instructed to assume as acting mayor. The difference in the enforcement of the two suspension orders, one a penalty, the other preventive, was striking, to say the least. Both Cebu City and Siaton, a municipality of about 83,000 in Negros Oriental, are located in Region 7, Central Visayas.

The Ombudsman meted out the penalty of a three-month suspension to Mayor Diaz and six members of the town's bids and awards committee in September 2023. The case stemmed from a complaint filed by a concerned citizen in 2019 over the bidding for the construction of a two-story, multi-purpose building. The winning bidder, Molrow Construction and Supply, was not eligible but was awarded the contract.

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