By Marita Moaje and Wilnard Bacelonia

VIRAL. Captain’s Peak Resort built within the vicinity of Chocolate Hills goes viral on social media since the area was declared a protected area through Proclamation No. 1037 issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos on July 1, 1997. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday (March 13, 2024) ordered an inspection of whether the resort violated the Temporary Closure Order issued on Sept. 6, 2023. (Screengrab from video of Ren the Adventurer)

MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Bohol to check whether a resort built within the vicinity of the famous Chocolate Hills failed to comply with the Temporary Closure Order (TCO) issued last year.

In an official statement on Wednesday, the DENR said Regional Executive Director Paquito Melicor issued a memorandum directing PENRO Bohol Ariel Rica to check if Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort located in Sagbayan, Bohol, is indeed operating.

Social media posts promoting the resort have earned negative reactions from netizens.

The DENR said it issued the Captain’s Peak Resort a TCO on Sept. 6, 2023.

A Notice of Violation was also issued to the project proponent on Jan. 22, 2024 for operating without an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR.

Any type of project created in the Philippines that may affect the environment must secure an ECC from the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

The DENR said Chocolate Hills in Bohol was declared a protected area through Proclamation No. 1037 issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos on July 1, 1997.

“This Proclamation designated the Chocolate Hills as a National Geological Monument and a Protected Landscape, recognizing the unique geological formations and the importance of covering this natural wonder for future generations,” the DENR statement read.

“The declaration aimed to preserve the iconic landscape of the Chocolate Hills and promote sustainable tourism while protecting the biodiversity and environmental integrity of the area,” it added.

DENR explained that landowners’ rights and interests will generally be recognized and respected if the land was titled before its declaration as a protected area.

However, it said the declaration of an area as a protected area may impose certain restrictions and regulations as to how the land may be used and developed within the protected area, even for privately owned lands.

These restrictions and regulations, it added, are to be detailed in the Environmental Impact Statement before the issuance of an ECC for the project.


Senator Nancy Binay, chair of the Committee on Tourism, expressed dismay over a structure built within the protected areas of Chocolate Hills, asking concerned government agencies and local government units to explain why permits were granted and the resort was allowed to operate.

“Kung ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na may tungkulin at responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang Chocolate Hills ay may pro-environment mindset, ang tanong po natin, bakit nakapagtayo ng resort at mayroon pang (If the government agencies, which has the mandate and responsibility to take good care of the Chocolate Hills, has a pro-environment mindset, our question is how come a resort was built and there are also) cottages and swimming pool,” Binay said in a statement Wednesday.

Binay said she received a report that the Protected Area Management Board approved the proposal and issued a resolution “favorably endorsing” the development of Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort in 2022 and 2023.

“We understand the importance of development, but there should be boundaries. If the Department of Environment and Natural Resources continues to issue Environmental Compliance Certificate in the guise of ‘tourism development’, I believe they have misunderstood what ecotourism is all about, and they have become complicit in defacing a natural monument they’re supposed to oppose,” she said.

Bohol Island was made part of the 195 global geoparks across 48 countries by UNESCO through a resolution adopted in a conference in Paris on May 24, 2023

Binay filed Senate Resolution No. 967 seeking to investigate the matter in aid of legislation with the goal of preserving Bohol’s protected area and major tourist attraction.


At the House of Representatives, Bohol Rep. Alexie Tutor called for the demolition of the Captain’s Peak Resort.

“That Captain’s Peak Resort should not have been allowed to be built there in the first place. It should be demolished and the construction site should be restored, with costs borne by the owners of that resort. But before these can happen, we have to follow due process,” Tutor said in a statement.

Tutor said she supports the call of Bohol Province Board Member Atty. Jamie Aumentado Villamor, who is also chairperson of the Provincial Board Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Protection, to stop the construction of structures within the vicinity of the Chocolate Hills to help protect the province’s major tourist attraction.

“I agree with the Committee’s findings and course of action. The Committee is correct in seeking the intervention of the Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga,” Tutor said.

She expressed hope that Yulo-Loyzaga will hold in abeyance the decision on the operation of Captain’s Peak Resort.

“There is a process. I will first trust the administrative process and exhaust all administrative remedies. If the administrative process does not work, those with proper legal standing can go to court to stop the Captain’s Peak Resort and also hold liable the government officials who permitted the construction and operation of that eyesore of a resort for their wrong actions on this matter,” she said.

Not DOT-accredited

The Department of Tourism (DOT) said developments inconsistent to Bohol’s UNESCO designation as a Global Geopark must be “disallowed” as it backed the temporary closure of a resort built too close to the Chocolate Hills.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DOT clarified that the resort was never a DOT-accredited tourism establishment as the agency itself raised its concerns regarding the development as early as August 2023.

“The Department of Tourism supports the preservation and protection of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, located within a declared UNESCO Global Geopark and a source of national pride for the Philippines,” it said.

“[The DOT] agrees with the Bohol Provincial Government’s position that development within the Chocolate Hills area are (sic) not consistent with its long-term sustainability, and should be disallowed,” it added.

The DOT underscored that while development is essential for growth and progress, “it must be conducted in harmony with environmental and cultural preservation”.

“We urge all parties involved, including government agencies, private sector entities, and local communities, to work together towards sustainable and responsible tourism practices that uphold the integrity of our natural heritage,” it said. (with reports from Joyce Rocamora/Filane Cervantes/PNA)