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Some developers cut through Chocolate Hills – DENR

MANILA, Philippines — Some project developers cut through the Chocolate Hills in Bohol during the construction of their structures, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said, reiterating that this is prohibited under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) law.

In a radio interview yesterday, Loyzaga noted that the defacement of Chocolate Hills was even worse in the case of Sagbayan Peak, where the hilltop was all but lopped off.

“Based on our fly-over, there were similar resorts that we discovered. We discovered in particular the Sagbayan Peak where the peak of the Chocolate Hills was flattened,” she said.

Loyzaga and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos visited the controversial Captain’s Peak Resort and other structures within the Chocolate Hills on Thursday.

“What I saw yesterday, the developer (Captain’s Peak Resort) cut some of the trees in order to design (the resort) and execute the project,” Loyzaga added.

She said that all structures at the Chocolate Hills will likely be demolished to restore the protected area.

“The (violations) on the hills were very obvious for them to execute their design in the development,” she said, noting the alteration of the hills is strictly prohibited.

Loyzaga said the demolition of the structures is necessary to restore what was damaged at the Chocolate Hills.“Yes, there is a need (to demolish the structures). We have what we call a mitigation approach for this kind of activity. The first one is to avoid the disturbance. If we cannot avoid the disturbance, we need to minimize, remedy and if we cannot remedy, we need to task (the developer) to compensate, to offset (the damage) through compensation,” she said.

“We are trying to trace when the activities started as we suspect that the activities happened when our concerned personnel were not allowed to go out during the COVID period,” she added.

The Bud Agta resort – situated in Barangay Tamboan in Carmen town where some of the Chocolate Hills are also located – has violated the law, according to Mayor Conchita delos Reyes.

Reyes said that she did not issue a mayor’s permit to operate this year since the resort only applied for a trekking and camping