DENR-PAMB behind Chocolate Hills resort

PAMB behind Chocolate Hills resort

Mar 19, 2024, 4:34 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz


At last, we know that, all the while, it was the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – the department mandated to conserve and preserve all protected areas and parks– that is behind all the illegal structures.

At last, we know that, all the while, it was the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – the department mandated to conserve and preserve all protected areas and parks– that is behind all the illegal structures.

The DENR, through the Protected Area Management Bureau, has an ‘unlawful’ policy that allows the use of 20 percent of the Chocolate Hills and other protected areas and parks of the country, for development.

No wonder, another report came out that illegal structures also abound in the Mt. Apo protected area.

“The DENR-PAMB resolution allowing the development of up to 20 percent of the Chocolate Hills is illegal as it violates Proclamation No. 1037 in 1997 of the late former President Fidel Ramos, which established the Hills and areas within, around and surrounding Chocolate Hills as protected areas,” the Philippine Star quoted the statement of Tagbilaran Baywatch, a watchdog for sustainable coastal development.

The DENR-PAMB in 2018 approved Resolution No. 01, endorsing the proposed Captain’s Peak Garden and Eco-park Tourism Resort in Barangay Canmano in the province’s municipality of Sagbayan. (Wow, how much did it cost for the exclusive resolution to be passed?)

The resolution provides that “function hall and all other infrastructure should be erected and/or constructed within the 20 percent area from the base of the hill, which is considered as multiple use zone following the sustainable infrastructure design in accordance with the guidelines of DAO 2009-09.”

Tagbilaran Baywatch, which is also responsible for blocking the planned reclamation of the city’s narrow sea channel, said the resolution should be revoked by the DENR-PAMB and demanded the permanent closure and demolition of the structures of the resort.

The group also called for the DENR to initiate legal action to cause the demolition of the structures after the issuance of the cease-and-desist order.

If legal action is sanctioned and the resort is found to be violating the law, the environmental watchdog urged the imposition of penalties for the resort operating without an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

Tagbilaran Baywatch likewise said that the prosecution of erring government officials might be in order.

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol was declared as a National Geological Monument on June 18, 1988 by the National Committee on Geological Sciences for its special characteristics, scientific importance, geomorphic uniqueness and high scientific value.

Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy, in a post, called on the faithful to take “pro-active” steps in safeguarding the environment “through conservation efforts, sustainable practices or advocating for policies that prioritize environmental protection.”

“Together, we can make a meaningful impact and ensure a harmonious coexistence with nature,” Uy said.

Another statement said Bohol Gov. Aris Aumentado is contemplating on creating the review and development committee (RedCom) to screen all public and private development projects within the protected areas prior to their submission to the DENR-PAMB. (Why announce your intention Gov., just do it!).

The committee will be composed of the provincial tourism council and multi-sectoral representatives.

Aumentado also urged the DENR to do an inventory of all private lands, which will be under the scrutiny of the RedCom.

The DENR and Sagbayan LGU meantime committed another blunder in bulldozing the barangay road between the two hills within the Captain’s Peak resort site in Barangay Canmano. (A move too late as the road is already benefiting so many people).

This surfaced during the ocular inspection of the resort sometime last year by members of the provincial board led by Vice Gov. Victor Balite, the Star said.

Since then, there has been no word about how to resolve the issue since the officials concerned were focused on the questioned amenities, like the swimming pool with water slides carved beside the two hills, where the resort’s titled lot is located.

Sagbayan has offered to restore the allegedly defaced two hills where the barangay road traversed near the resort.

“We are more than willing to restore what has been allegedly and perceived to be defacement of the hills as a result of the LGU’s effort to rehabilitate or repair the old existing barangay road as described above on the basis of a request of Barangay Canmano,” Sagbayan Mayor Restituto Suarez III said in a three-page position paper submitted to the board.

He said the town had “no ulterior motive to deface, alter or mutilate the hills within its territorial jurisdiction,” contrary to malicious newspaper reports.

He added that the move to repair the road was prompted since the town tried to reopen the tourism sites that would necessitate improving its services and provide amenities in accordance with the mandate of the national government for economic recovery after the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another reason is that the LGU has responded to the barangay’s request to repair the road bordering Canmano and Libertad Norte, he explained.

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