Atilano battles misrepresentation, corruption issues Print
Monday, 23 October 2017 16:37

By Allen Abastillas & RG Antonet Go

The highly successful Zamboanga weightlifting team is now mired in controversy due to allegations of misrepresentation and corruption hounding one of its leaders.

The controversy was sparked by the departure of Councilor Bong Atilano as Philippine Weightlifting Association (PWA) team leader after several years of being prominently linked with the sport.

Atilano is known to be a mentor of weightlifting icon Hidilyn Diaz and has accompanied her and the Zamboanga weightlifting team to several local and international competitions.

He also serves as PWA Vice-President and Committee Head for Technical Operations.

Newly-designated weightlifting team manager Francisco Mortera earlier said that he has taken over the role from Atilano and will be travelling with the Philippine Weightlifting team to a competition in South Korea this month.

Mortera thanked PWA President Congressman Monico Fuentebella for designating him as the new team manager of the PWA and vowed to work hard to achieve victory for the Philippine team.

Atilano downplayed reports of being removed as team manager saying that the role is not held permanently by one person and can be transferred for purposes of accompanying athletes for competition.

Atilano explained that the team leader to accompany members to competitions can be changed for every event.

“No big deal,”  Atilano said.

Atilano reasoned that he was not able to attend meetings for several months because he was busy in Zamboanga attending to his responsibilities as a councilor.

As such, he expects to also be removed from his position as the Technical Committee Head.

“Automatic, if you cannot attend for whatever reason, you will be removed,” Atilano explained.

He however said that he cannot be relieved from his position as PWA Vice President because removal requires a vote of 3/4 of all members of the association.

Mortera is scheduled to depart for Yanggu, South Korea on October 26 to accompany weightlifters to the 2017 Asian Senior Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship.

He is expected to travel with Olympian Hidilyn Diaz and members of the Philippine Weightlifting team composed of Margaret Colonia, Marry Flor Diaz and Maria Dessa Delosantos.

Among the PWA members who will travel with the group as coaches are Greg Colonia, Allen Jayfrus Diaz and Tony Agustin.

Atilano meantime said that he has no problem with Mortera leading the Zamboanga team to Seoul.

“There’s no big deal.  The most important thing is to continue training and producing top caliber athletes. “

“Regarding Mortera, I have proven it (with Hidilyn) Kamo ya tamen,” Atilano said.


Power struggle among weightlifting officials give rise to Misrepresentation issues


Atilano’s absence on the weightlifting circult gave rise to speculations of Misrepresentation reportedly committed by the councilor in his capacity as PWA Vice President.

In an interview, Mortera himself claimed that  Atilano was removed from his position in the PWA due to a reported misrepresentation.

The former team leader reportedly wrote a letter to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) without authority  and which maligned the name of the PWA and its current President, Congressman Monico Fuentebella.

In an interview, Atilano confirmed writing the letter in reply to the international association’s query on the re- assumption of Congressman Monico Fuentebella as President of the PWA.

“They were questioning how come Fuentebella fit in and this, Fuentebella misunderstood.  Sinabi ko he is not a member of the board which is true,” Atilano said.

Atilano explained that based on the PWA Constitution, only members of the Board can become the President of the Association.  Fuentebella is reportedly not a member of the PWA Board.

“They (IWF) are asking why Monico returned as officer again.  He has been there for 12 years but nothing happened.  The international community does not want him.  He was the former President but during his term he has not done anything,” Atilano stressed.

Atilano said that Fuentebella himself thought that he (Atilano) was going to assume the role of President which he denied.

“The rest are addressing me (as President) I said no, we will look for somebody else.  Ya entra man si Monico (Fuentebella) he was the former President.  Deja conele maskin nohay ele team, nohay ele atleta, nohay ele club.  Deja conele.”  Atilano said.

Atilano also debunked reports that he has no experience being a weightlifter and has no right to join the weightlifting organization.

He claims to be the only licensed IWF category 1 referee in the country and a former weightlifter in his younger years.


Atilano answers corruption allegations


Atilano also denied reports of corruption due to the entry of PWA funds coming from weightlifting donors.

“How can you corrupt weightlifting if the association does not have money.  Ytu pa ta gasta?”  Atilano explained.

As former Vice-President, he said that the association does not have a budget for its officers during meetings.

He said that he pays for his plane fare and accommodation whenever he travels to Manila to attend PWA meetings.

“Cosa tiene el association cay nohay man sen el association. Ytu pa ta gasta. Despues ara habla contigo, corrupt?”

Allegations of corruption also involved the reported earnings of Olympian Hidilyn Diaz which reached to millions of pesos after she won a silver medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“El winnings de Hidilyn Diaz, conele man ta ginda hende man ta pasa comigo y na association,” Atilano said.

He however confirmed that people have been offering him money as support for struggling weightlifters due to Diaz’s exposure after winning the Olympics.

He said that he told these supporters to give the money straight to the athletes.

Atilano however said that this might have been the reason why corruption speculations have surfaced.

He said that other officials might have been jealous that donors are approaching him to provide money for athletes.