Boholanos should be the first to protect the Chocolate Hills
LETTERS

Boholanos should be the first to protect the Chocolate Hills from destruction

/ 05:03 AM March 22, 2024

I am not a sociologist, a social scientist, or a psychologist, just an ordinary Filipino who had visited Bohol a number of times and loved anything Boholano since I married one.

Before we start blaming government institutions like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Tourism (DOT) regarding their environmental compliance certificate, cease and desist order, and temporary closure order, let us start from the beginning.

More than 15 years ago, parts of Chocolate Hills among the 1,776 were destroyed or “chipped off” by the locals for limestone to be used for road repairs by the local government. Some were probably sold commercially. As usual, it took some time until people expressed outrage, thus it was stopped. I don’t know whether they rebuilt the destroyed hills.

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Everyone, Filipinos and especially the Boholanos, must be aware of the need to protect the natural beauty of this first Unesco Global Geopark in the Philippines. Bohol is not a very big island and if people were aware that its natural beauty is being destroyed, Boholanos should protest at the first sign of any destruction. We’ve heard stories of people surrounding trees to prevent them from being chopped down.

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Why did it take so long for the provincial government to notice this illegal construction? Don’t they go around the different towns and cities regularly? Didn’t the locals notice the big trucks and construction equipment passing through their narrow roads? Why wait until this atrocity is made public years after the resort’s opening? Who needs an Olympic-size swimming pool in Bohol when the island itself is surrounded by beautiful and pristine beaches?

All those future investigations by government will just cost us time and money, when we all know that it boils down to corruption, i.e., “lagay” (bribery). Please resolve this issue quickly after an investigation: remove all resort structures and cover the swimming pool with soil. As soon as we know who the perpetrators are who gave the go signal for the resort’s construction—from the local government, the barangay, the mayor, and all those officials from such government agencies as the DENR, DILG, DOT—fire them all right away so they’d learn their lesson.

Lastly, we should EDUCATE not only the Boholanos but all Filipinos to love and protect NATURE since once we destroy it, it is hard to rebuild. Money cannot replace the beauty of the Chocolate Hills. No more illegal construction on this site. Love the Chocolate Hills as they are.

Ida M. Tiongco,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Bohol, Chocolate Hills

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