Viral Chocolate Hills resort ordered temporary closure – DENR

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Wednesday, March 13, that a temporary closure order was issued last year on the now viral resort in the middle of Bohol's Chocolate Hills.

Captain's Peak Resort in Chocolate Hills
Screenshots from Facebook/Ren The Adventurer video.

In a statement released on social media, the DENR said the closure order was issued last September 6, 2023 while a notice of violation against Captain's Peak Resort "for operating without an ECC (environmental compliance certificate)" was made in January 2024.

The agency divulged that Chocolate Hills were declared a protected area on July 1, 1997 through Proclamation No. 1037 issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

If a land was titled prior to an area's designation as a protected area, "the rights and interests of the landowner will generally be recognized and respected," DENR said.

DENR STATEMENT ON THE CHOCOLATE HILLS IN BOHOL

Posted by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

"However, the declaration of the area as a protected area may impose certain restriction or regulations on land use and development within the protected area, even for privately-owned lands. These restrictions and regulations are to be detailed in the Environmental Impact Statement prior to the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the project," it added.

See also: Why is there a resort in the middle of Bohol's Chocolate Hills?

A vlog about the resort in Sagbayan town, Bohol recently went viral as netizens pointed out why there's a commercial development within a protected area, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and a declared geological park (geopark).

Resort Sa Gitna Nang Chocolate Hills 😱❤️

Resort Sa Gitna Nang Chocolate Hills 😱❤️ πŸ“Feat. captain's peak Sagbayan bohol πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­

Posted by Ren The Adventurer on Saturday, March 2, 2024

While the UNESCO marker is located in Carmen town as most of 1,776 haycock hills are found, the hills also spread out in neighboring towns such as Sagbayan and Batuan.

"The hills are located throughout the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan and consist of about 1,776 mounds of the same general shape. During the dry season when precipitation in inadequate, the grass-covered hills turn chocolate brown, hence the name in reference to a branded confection," UNESCO said in its website.

Sen. Nancy Binay said the existence of the resort was "infuriating" and "heartbreaking."

"Sa unang tingin pa lamang, alam na nating may mali. Kung ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na may tungkulin at responsabilidad na pangalagaan ang Chocolate Hills ay may pro-environment mindset, ang tanong po natin, bakit nakapagtayo ng resort at mayroon pang cottages at swimming pool sa isang 'classified natural monument' sa ilalim ng (National Integrated Protected Areas System) at isang protected UNESCO Geopark?" said Binay, head of the Senate Committees on Tourism, Cultural Communities.

Regional Executive Director Paquito Melicor issued today a Memorandum directing the Bohol Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ariel Rica to create a team to conduct inspection at the resort for its compliance with the temporary closure order.

— The Summit Express



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