DENR stops operation of Chocolate Hills resort

DENR stops operation of Chocolate Hills resort

By: - Reporter / @zacariansINQ
/ 03:30 PM March 15, 2024

DENR stops operation of Chocolate Hills resort

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines. | Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against the controversial resort operating within the Chocolate Hills protected area in Bohol province.

DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Juan Miguel Cuna said the CDO was issued on March 14, putting Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort under close monitoring of the agency to make sure it won’t open for business.


“The regional executive director of Region 7 and the regional director of EMB (Environmental Management Bureau) Region 7 issued a joint cease and desist order to the establishment to ensure that they are no longer operating,” Cuna said in a press conference.


“That is where we are right now, and we are closely monitoring the Captain’s Peak to ensure that they remain closed and not open for operations,” he added.

READ: Chocolate Hills resort ‘temporarily closed until further notice’

The DENR’s CDO came six months after it issued a Temporary Closure Order (TCO) on Sept. 6, 2023 and nearly three months after it issued a notice of violation on January 22 against the resort.

The DENR said Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort were operating without the required environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort became viral online after a video of the vacation spot was posted on social media on March 6. Its operation within the scenic Chocolate Hills earned uproar among netizens, as they questioned how the resort was able to do business in a protected area as some believe it ruined the picturesque world-famous tourism destination in Bohol.


According to the UNESCO website, Chocolate Hills was declared the Philippines’ third National Geological Monument on June 18, 1988, “in recognition of its scientific value and geomorphic uniqueness.”

DENR Undersecretary Joselin Marcus Fragada said they continue to investigate the matter to “make informed decisions in addressing the critical gaps that we’ve identified.”

She also assured the public that the DENR is already strengthening its enforcement and strategies against similar establishments operating in environmentally significant areas without the necessary permits.

Chocolate Hills resort may still reopen?

Environment Secretary Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, meanwhile, said they are still studying the “range of violations” that Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort may have breached.

She was asked if it’s still possible for the resort to reopen after it successfully obtained necessary permits to do business within Chocolate Hills.

“We are not actually able to determine if we can have them open again. We are reviewing the range of violations because apart from not having an ECC, there are other possible violations, including the potential damage to the environment in releasing waste water and other types of solid waste management challenges relating to this development,” the DENR chief said.

Specifically, Cuna said the resort lacked a discharge permit from the EMB, a permit for being a hazardous waste generator (for gas, and fluorescent bulbs containing mercury), and a permit for operating a deep well.

Cuna also disclosed that under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018 or the (E-Nipas) law, the resort may face penalties for criminal liability from P1 million to P5 million, on top of other possible fines for administrative violations ranging from P50,000 to P5 million.

Violators of the E-Nipas law may also face a jail term of six to 12 years.

Loyzaga said that UNESCO’s recognition of Chocolate Hills as an important geological site contributes to the discussion on whether it should be permitted to operate again. UNESCO likewise recognized Bohol province as the Philippines’ first global geopark.

“The Geopark designation by Unesco is very strict, if we find that our own criteria is already very stringent, this is probably even more stringent as far as we are concerned in terms of the protection of that environment, so right now it is still unclear if they will be able to open again,” she noted.

On queries about the possible demolition of Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort should DENR determine that it can no longer continue its operations in the area, Cuna said this matter is also being studied.

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“Pagdating sa demolition, kailangan pag-aralan. Private property po ito at ang hindi pwede ay mag-operate sila without the ECC,” he stressed.

(When it comes to demolition, it is necessary to study. This is private property and what is not allowed is that they operate without the ECC.)

TAGS: Chocolate Hills, DENR

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