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Monday, July 15, 2024

‘Parts of Chocolate Hills carved for resort’

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Portions of the protected Chocolate Hills were carved to build the controversial Captain’s Peak Resort, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.

“What I saw yesterday was that the project’s developer carved several hills to design and execute this project,”

DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said.

The DENR chief visited the resort in Bohol on Thursday amid an ongoing investigation into the establishment.

“It is very obvious that some hills were carved to execute their design… The hills should not be touched. That really can’t be done,” she added.

The Department of Tourism said it is pushing for its inclusion in the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to offer recommendations on safeguarding the Philippines’ protected areas, particularly those in tourist destinations like Bohol.

This move followed a meeting between Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and Bohol Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado.

In a joint statement, heads of the DENR, DILG, and DOT said the recent issue at the Chocolate Hills highlights the importance of responsible development in protected areas, emphasizing the delicate balance between economic development, sustainable livelihood, and environmental conservation.

“The preservation of our natural heritage is paramount, and therefore, harnessing the economic benefits of our nation’s resources must be tempered with the duty to uphold the integrity of our protected areas today and for generations yet to come,” Yulo-Loyzaga, Frasco and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said.

“Achieving this starts with identifying the gaps in historical policies and practices and developing a comprehensive and balanced approach at both national and local levels of government. This includes strengthening regulations and monitoring mechanisms, rationalizing land use classification, and enforcing evidence-informed environmental protection according to global environmental standards, while also considering the communities’ needs for livelihood and employment.”

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