DILG implements suspension order on Siaton Mayor Diaz

Negros Oriental map.
Negros Oriental map.

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government in Negros Oriental implemented on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, the long-overdue three-month suspension order the Office of the Ombudsman issued against Siaton Mayor Cezanne Fritz Diaz.

Siaton Vice Mayor, now Acting Mayor, Vincent Emil “Bingbing” Arbolado confirmed the serving of the suspension order in a phone interview with SunStar Cebu on Friday, May 31.

The suspension order was issued in September 2023.

Arbolado said the 90-day suspension of Diaz will end in the last week of August 2024.

Arbolado assumes the role of acting municipal mayor of Siaton through the rule of succession.

Diaz’s suspension stemmed from the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman which held the Siaton mayor and six others administratively liable for simple neglect of duty and consequently suspending them for three months.

The anti-graft office’s decision was based on a 2019 administrative complaint filed by a private individual, citing gross neglect of duty based on irregularities in the public bidding for the design and construction of a two-storey multi-purpose building.

The suspension order was also served to Municipal Budget Officer Dario Arbolado, Municipal Engineer Alma Ragay, Budget Officer Roger Ian Gadingan, Administrative Officer Regie Rapada, social welfare officer Panfila Elumirio, and Operations Officer Myrna Cimafranca. They are members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Meanwhile, Arbolado, confirmed to SunStar Cebu that the two-storey multi-purpose building project, intended to be the town’s business hub, has yet to be completed.

Arbolado said the project was marred with controversies and was flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Despite the project being unfinished, he said the contractor received payment. The project was tagged as “completed” under the Diaz administration.

The COA has issued a Notice of Disallowance to the Municipal Government for this project.

Asked what he will do as acting mayor in the next three months, Arbolado said he would initiate a thorough investigation on the contractor with the coordination of the COA.

In 2019, Diaz, head of procuring entity, and BAC members awarded the contract to Morrow Construction and Supply (Molrow) to design and construct a two-story multi-purpose building.

A complainant filed grave neglect of duty against Diaz and the six other BAC members for awarding the contract to Molrow despite its ineligibility.

On Sept. 8, 2023, Diaz and six others were held administratively liable for simple neglect of duty and not gross neglect of duty, consequently suspending them for three months.

In an interview on May 20, Diaz told SunStar Cebu that he has a pending appeal before the Court of Appeals, hoping the court would reverse the earlier ruling. / EHP

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