Manager admits no environmental clearance for Chocolate Hills resort; to close temporarily

Kristofer Purnell –

March 14, 2024 | 8:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — The manager of the viral resort situated in the vicinity of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills admitted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) was not obtained for the resort’s construction, but claimed it did not damage the famous landmark.

Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort went viral through online clips where Filipinos discovered it was situated in the vicinity of the Chocolate Hills.

Resort manager Julieta Sablas told TeleRadyo Serbisyo that they were aware the property is part of a protected area. Sablas said they could not farm because the soil was “acidic” and that its owner Edgar Buton, who is her brother, might have opted to build a resort instead, given the scenery.

Sablas said they failed to get an ECC, but defended the resort against comments it was destroying the hills, “Sila lang po ang nagsasabi na nakakasira, pero kapag nandito po kayo sa area namin, talagang hindi po eh.”

They are willing to cooperate in investigations, though Sablas noted that other establishments in the area should also be checked. 

“Sana before po ‘yung negative comments ninyo, siguro mas maganda po na magtanong-tanong muna tayo kung talagang mayroon po kaming nilabag na sinisira po namin ‘yung Chocolate Hills po,” she said. “Kasi kapag nandito po kayo sa area, wala po talaga kaming nilabag, na Chocolate Hills na sinira namin or ano pang ginagawa namin. ‘Yung Chocolate Hills iniingatan po namin.”

RELATED: DENR: Chocolate Hills resort ordered shut for lack of environmental clearance

In a separate interview with ABS-CBN News, Julieta said Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort was allowed to operate without an ECC, explaining they even approached the Protected Area Management Bureau (PAMB) as advised by the local government.

Julieta claimed they were given a “clearance” from the PAMB that stated the resort had to comply with the ECC requirement, which according to her became an issue because of the pandemic.

“Parang smooth lang, nago-operate kami. Tatlong taon ‘d iba ‘yung pandemic, nakalimutan na po namin ‘yung ECC. Ito po ang nangyari,” Julieta continued. “Alam kasi nilang nago-operate na kami eh. If you are not allowed to operate without that certificate, talagang i-istop nila kami.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a closure order and a notice of violation to the resort’s administrator for operating without an ECC.

A temporary closure order was issued to the project proponent of the Captain’s Peak Garden and Resorts in September 2023, and a notice of violation followed in January 2024.

Later in the interview, Julieta said the resort’s workers would lose their jobs because of the temporary closure and reiterated her call to also investigate other resorts in the area.

The siblings are continuing to acquire the ECC to restart the resort with the workers in minds; however, the date of their resort’s potential reopening remain unknown.  — with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

RELATED: Anne Curtis, Janno Gibbs express concern over Chocolate Hills resort


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