Resort at Chocolate Hills questioned over water use

Resort at Chocolate Hills questioned over water use

/ 05:06 AM March 21, 2024

Resort at Chocolate Hills questioned over water use

OFF-LIMITS The Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort, built within the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan, Bohol, has been closed to the public after the local government revoked its business permit. Its management, however, says it halted operations for “maintenance and environmental preservation efforts.” —LEO UDTOHAN

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) on Tuesday issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) against the controversial resort built within the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan, Bohol, for its management’s failure to secure permits to tap water sources in the area.

NWRB Executive Director Ricky Arzadon said their investigation revealed that Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort was using deep wells to meet the needs of the resort, yet the agency’s records showed it did not secure any water rights or water application.


“The CDO was issued to explain their side, and based on their explanation, we will assess if we need to file a criminal case against them,” Arzadon said.


Seeking approval

Captain’s Peak was given 15 days to submit its explanation to the NWRB, Arzadon said.

“That’s an illegal extraction of water. I have to immediately issue a CDO for them to stop utilizing or extracting water,” he said.

“But this time, they need to stop. For the water use, they have to go to the NWRB on everything. They do not have the permit. That’s illegal, that’s even a criminal offense,” he added.

Arzadon said the NWRB was looking into the issue, “especially on the criminal aspect.”

Captain’s Peak attracted public attention after a vlogger’s post on social media showed the resort’s swimming pool, cottages, and other structures at the foot of the Chocolate Hills, considered a natural monument and a protected landscape.

The Chocolate Hills, a symbol of Bohol tourism, is recognized as one of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Global Geoparks, the first in the country.


The attraction is composed of 1,776 limestone mounds, most of which are found in the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan.

It earned its name because the hills turn brown, like chocolates, during the dry season.

In 1997, then President Fidel Ramos, through Presidential Decree No. 1037, declared the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Bilar, Batuan, Sagbayan, Sierra Bullones and Valencia towns as a Natural Monument, ensuring their protection.

Last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) directed its provincial office in Bohol to determine if the resort had complied with the temporary closure order issued in September last year. The resort, the DENR said, has not secured an environmental compliance certificate.

Permit revoked

The Sagbayan local government last week revoked the business permit it issued to the resort, which was built on a private property acquired in 2005.

But Captain’s Peak, in a statement posted on its Facebook page, said it decided to temporarily close the resort for “maintenance and environmental preservation efforts.”

READ: DENR stops operation of Chocolate Hills resort

Captain’s Peak said it “will be implementing various eco-friendly initiatives to further enhance the sustainability of our resort.”

“We are committed to upholding the highest standards of environmental stewardship and ensuring the preservation of the natural beauty that surrounds us,” it said.

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The Senate, through the committees on environment, natural resources and climate change, and on tourism, have sought an investigation into the resort’s operations amid a protected landscape. The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Bohol provincial government are also looking into the issue.

TAGS: Bohol, Chocolate Hills

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