Viral Bohol resort looks forward to welcoming people back after temporary closure

March 14, 2024 - 12:55 PM
Captain's Peak Resort_visitors
Visitors of Captain's Peak Garden and Resort at Bohol in this photo posted on its Facebook page on Jan. 8, 2024 (captainspeakgarden2018/Facebook)

(Updated: 4:30 p.m.) The controversial Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort in Sagbayan, Bohol said it is looking forward to welcoming people soon after temporarily closing its facilities following orders from government agencies and officials.

The resort reportedly released an advisory stating that it “will be temporarily closed for maintenance and environmental preservation efforts.”

According to ABS-CBN News, the resort said it will implement “various eco-friendly initiatives” to “further enhance the sustainability” of the resort.

“We are committed to upholding the highest standards of environmental stewardship and ensuring the preservation of the natural beauty that surrounds us,” the page of Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort said.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding and support as we work towards a greener, more sustainable future for Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort. Thank you for your cooperation, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon,” it added.

The uproar 

On Wednesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the Bohol Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office will inspect the resort’s compliance with the temporary closure order.

The DENR said that it had issued a temporary closure order on the resort last year, as well as a notice of violation this January for operating without an environmental compliance certificate or an ECC.

On the same day, Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado said that the DENR Region 7 “will issue [a] cease and desist order of the resort.”

The resort continued to operate despite the temporary closure order, with its Facebook page posting pictures of visitors swimming in its facilities as late as January 2024.

It gained attention after a travel vlogger on March 9 shared a video featuring the resort which he said was located “in the middle of Chocolate Hills.”

special report from The Freeman noted that the controversial resort is located “mostly at the base of some of the identified hills that form part of the famous Chocolate Hills.”

The Chocolate Hills, a popular Bohol landmark, was designated a National Geological Monument and Protected Landscape by virtue of Proclamation 1037 issued by then-president Fidel V. Ramos on July 1, 1997.

Republic Act 7586 also prohibits the “mutilating, defacing or destroying objects of natural beauty; squatting, mineral locating, or occupying any land; constructing or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosures” of protected areas.

Moreover, the Department of Tourism said that the resort is not an accredited tourism establishment and that it had no pending applications before.

“The Department, through its Regional Office in Central Visayas, has been in coordination with the Bohol Provincial Government since August 2023 to express its concerns regarding this matter especially recognizing the necessity of preserving the integrity of this natural resource,” it said on March 13.

The natural resource it was referring to was the world-renowned Chocolate Hills.

Meanwhile, resort manager Julieta Sablas, who is also the owner’s sister, previously said they had followed procedure before operating the establishment.

She also admitted that some parts of the hills were extracted, but were minimal and within the permitted limits.

The Bohol Chronicle reported that the DENR’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) had issued a resolution “favorably endorsing” the resort’s development.

ALSO READ: Why ‘Chocolate Hills’ is trending and what’s a resort got to do with it

In an interview on March 13, Sablas insisted they were not doing anything wrong with Chocolate Hills following the uproar against them.

“Sila lang po ang nagsasabi na nakakasira, pero kapag nandito po kayo sa area namin, talagang hindi po eh,” she said to Teleradyo Serbisyo.

“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,” Sablas added.

She also expressed hopes that other tourism establishments in the area would be investigated too so that it would be “fair.”

The Chocolate Hills consist of some 1,776 mounds spread over the towns of Carmen, Batuan, Sagbayan and other towns in Bohol, according to the DENR.

It is located on Bohol Island, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared as the country’s first Global Geopark.

The designation makes the hills part of the sites and landscapes with international geological significance.

The Chocolate Hills are usually covered in green grass but turn brown during the dry season, making them appear like chocolate mounds.