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DOT hails proposed inclusion in Chocolate Hills board

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) commended lawmakers’ proposal to include the agency on the Protected Area Management Board of the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument.

House Bill 10438 also seeks to include on the expanded board the National Museum, the UNESCO technical committee of Bohol, representatives of religious groups and environmental planners and architects operating within the Chocolate Hills or Bohol.

The proposed measure would also widen the coverage of the Chocolate Hills protected area, extending it to the towns of Valencia and Sierra Bullones and covering an estimated 1,776 limestone hills.

Bohol Reps. Edgar Chatto, Maria Vanessa Aumentado and Kristine Alexie Tutor and Palawan Rep. Jose Alvarez filed the bill.

“This inclusive and comprehensive approach ensures the protection and sustainable management of this iconic landscape,” Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco said on Wednesday.

The government had ordered the closure of the Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort in Sagbayan town, with its pools, slides and cottages built at the foot of one of the Chocolate Hills.

The protected area – dome-shaped limestone formations covered with grass that turn brown during summer – scattered in the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan was declared a National Geological Monument in 1988.

Because of this unique feature, Bohol earned recognition as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

“The DOT fully supports this legislative effort and looks forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the proposed amendments. The Department is confident that through united efforts, the protection, sustainable development and global recognition of the Chocolate Hills will be significantly enhanced,” Frasco said.