Thursday , 18 April 2024

Chocolate Hills resort admits no ECC; closes temporarily

The manager of the viral resort situated in the vicinity of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills admitted they have not secured an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) prior to 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 netizens discovered it was located inside the vicinity of the Chocolate Hills.

Resort manager Julieta Sablas revealed 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.”

They will cooperate with the 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 meron po kaming nilabag na sinisira po namin ‘yung Chocolate Hills,” 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.”

Julieta said their 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 Captain’s Peak Garden and Resorts in September 2023, and a notice of violation followed in January 2024.

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 intend to secure an ECC to restart operations with the workers in their minds; however, date of their reopening remain unknown.

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