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'Parang kulugo': House sets probe into Chocolate Hills resort


The House of Representatives has set an investigation into the construction of a resort within the vicinity of Chocolate Hills, a heritage site, in Bohol.

"We will have a motu proprio investigation next week," House Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo said in a press conference on Thursday. "Hindi ito nagustuhan ng House leadership (The House leadership does not like this). That is a national heritage site." 

Tulfo described the Captain's Peak Resort as an eyesore. "Para siyang kulugo na tumubo sa mukha mo (it's like a wart on your face)."  

In the Senate, Senator Nancy Binay, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Tourism, is also seeking an investigation in the construction of the resort. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, meanwhile, said his department will check if concerned local government units could be held accountable.

Tulfo, during Thursday's press conference, said it is impossible that LGUs, as well as concerned national government agencies, are unaware of the resort.

"We'll summon these agencies, including LGUs, DENR (Department of Environment Natural Resources), and LRA (Land Registration Authority)," he said.

Anakalusugan party-list lawmaker Ray Reyes, during the same press conference, said the resort's owner having title to the land does not make the existence of the facility legal.

"This is a national heritage site. Even if we say parts of Chocolate Hills have [land] titles, these titles do not constitute blanket authority and they can do anything with the land," Reyes said.

The DENR earlier said it issued a temporary closure order in September 2023 as well as a violation notice in January 2024 against Captain's Peak Resort.

According to the agency, the resort was operating without an environmental clearance certificate (ECC).

"DENR already ordered its closure in 2023 but it continued its operations. Why would the LGU allow this to happen? This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of questions that need answers here and I look forward to this motu proprio investigation," Reyes said.

The local government of Sagbayan, Bohol, however, said it has yet to receive a copy of the temporary closure order from the DENR.
  
House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas is also seeking for an investigation through House Resolution 1648.

"What is even more alarming is that the local government is aware of this and instead of closing it down, it even held an activity there. This should be investigated, and its operations should be halted. For all we know, this is not the only area infiltrated by businesses," she said. —KBK, GMA Integrated News 

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