New Resort In The Philippines Sparks Debate Over Conservation And ‘Abuse Of Natural Resour...

The new Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort located in the famous Chocolate Hills of the Philippines is meant to give visitors an exclusive experience of lush scenery. However, the public and government officials are viewing the resort as a “blatant abuse of natural resources,” calling for an investigation into how the resort was able to be built where it was in the first place. 

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The Chocolate Hills in the Philippines are known for their vast landscapes and lush views. The Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort wants to give travelers the opportunity to experience this rare scenery for themselves, however, the public has not responded as enthusiastically. 

One legislator has stated that the building of the resort is a “blatant abuse of our natural resources.” The national senate is also considering launching an investigation as to how the resort was able to be built in the protected natural space. 

House deputy majority leader Erwin Tulfo stated on Monday, according to CNN, that the nation is struggling to balance their growing tourism industry while protecting its ecological wonders and natural resources.

“This is a blatant abuse of our natural resources. The question is how it was built and who approved it in an area that we should be protecting.”

The Chocolate Hills are made up of more than 1,700 limestone peaks that appear to stretch on forever based on where you look at them. The Hills get the name due to the fact that their grass-covered mounds turn brown during the dry season, resembling pieces of chocolate. 

In 1997 the hills were declared a protected area by the then Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos. The declaration stated that authorities were legally obligated “to protect and maintain its natural beauty and provide restraining mechanisms for inappropriate exploitation.”

Images of the new resort posted by a local travel influencer earlier this month initially sparked public backlash. The main argument from citizens is that the government is not doing enough to protect the environment despite there being legislation in place.

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“The construction of the Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort raises serious concerns on possible avenues for the circumvention of laws and issuances on building, business and environmental permits, certification, or licenses in the guise of tourism economic development.”

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On March 13th, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered that the resort temporarily close while lawmakers in Manila moved to demand answers regarding how the resort was able to be built. 

The resort shared on Facebook a version of its business permit and claimed it was “a testament to our commitment to operating responsibly and in compliance with local regulations.

“Our resort’s construction plans underwent rigorous scrutiny and received the necessary approvals from relevant authorities. We have complied with all environmental regulations and have taken measures to minimize the ecological footprint throughout the development process,” the resort said in a separate statement. 

“We understand the importance of development, but there should be boundaries. If the DENR continues to issue ECCs [Environmental Compliance Certificates] in the guise of ‘tourism development,’ then I believe they have misunderstood what ecotourism is all about, and they have become complicit to defacing a natural monument (which) they’re supposed to oppose,” said Senator Nancy Binay, who chairs the legislature’s tourism committee, in a statement.