Filtered By: Topstories
News

DILG to look into LGUs’ accountability over viral Chocolate Hills resort


The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it will check if concerned local governments are accountable over the viral resort operating in the protected area of Chocolate Hills in Bohol.

“Should there be neglect of duty or any other irregularity on the part of the officials tasked with protecting and overseeing the area, we will not hesitate to pursue appropriate legal actions,” DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos said in a statement.

“Under our Local Government Code, they have the mandate to enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology. If illegal construction were allowed within a protected area, this would fall gravely short of this responsibility,” he added.

The DENR on Wednesday 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).

Abalos joined the public in concerns over the construction of the pool resort within the Chocolate Hills.

Chocolate Hills is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected area under Proclamation No. 1037 Series of 1997 and the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992, he pointed out.

“Any activity that disturbs or damages protected areas such as the Chocolate Hills, without proper authorization, is prohibited by law,” Abalos said.

The local government of Sagbayan, Bohol said that it has yet to receive a copy of the temporary closure order from the DENR.

Office of the Mayor’s executive secretary Felito Pon said some applications in connection with the resort reached the local government in 2018 and they were referred to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

On the part of the municipal government, Pon said the business permit of the resort will be revoked if violations are committed.

“Sa amin naman sa LGU, mare-revoke nila yung business permit nila…Kapag merong batas na nilabag, may kapangyarihan po yung local chief executive natin na bawiin, ikansela yung business permit nila,” he said.

(For us in the LGU, their business permit will be revoked...When there is a law that has been violated, our local chief executive has the power to revoke or cancel their business permit.)

Bohol 2nd District Board Member Jiselle Rae Villamor said the DENR manifested that the resort had met the guidelines during their probe.

“Tinayo daw po ito ng 2018 by virtue of DENR-PAMB resolution, actually two resolutions enforcing and approving the construction and development of the said resort,” she told Super Radyo dzBB in an interview.

(It was supposedly built in 2018 by virtue of DENR-PAMB resolution, actually two resolutions enforcing and approving the construction and development of the said resort.)

“The DENR manifested during our investigation in our committee meeting that Captain’s Peak Resort followed their guidelines and has been compliant daw sa mga conditions nila,” she added.

(The DENR manifested during our investigation in our committee meeting that Captain's Peak Resort followed their guidelines and has supposedly been compliant with their conditions.)

One of these conditions was that 20% of the land mass of one of the Chocolate Hills may be used or developed in a titled lot, which Villamor said should be amended in the guidelines.

Captain’s Peak Resort announced its temporary closure late Wednesday evening amid flak on social media and imminent government action regarding its operations.

Senator Nancy Binay, chairperson of the Senate committee on tourism, said the DENR and other government agencies including LGUs should explain the granting of construction permits for the project.

For its part, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said its Central Visayas office has been coordinating with the Bohol provincial government since August 2023 on its concerns of the resort being in the protected area.—RF, GMA Integrated News
 

LOADING CONTENT