Just this week, the social media has once again proven how potent its force is in making or unmaking people more so in making things happen. We all just woke up with the photos of the famous Chocolate Hills in Bohol with a constructed resort downhill flooding our timelines. Then the sages of the social media started imposing their wisdom while the stakeholders in Bohol were in panic mode each looking for a better defense to justify themselves why a resort was allowed to be built in a global geopark in the country declared by the United Nations.

The resort in question is the Captain’s Peak Garden owned by Edgar Button who was able to acquire a title of the land where his establishment is standing. It was constructed without an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but the local government of Sagbayan issued a business permit in 2018, allowed its renewal this year and hastily revoked the permit this week after the issue caught national attention.

Now, DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga wants to demolish all the illegal structures erected within the vicinity of Chocolate Hills. She stated that if Bohol wants to retain its geopark status, it must ensure certain sets of standards in allowing developments at the park. How will it affect Captain’s Peak Garden remains to be seen. The matter is primarily the responsibility of the local government of Bohol and the towns of Sagbayan, Pilar, Carmen, Batuan and Sierra Bullones. Afterall, as a rule, no business can start without any approval from any local government.

It’s just that in the case of Captain’s Peak Garden, no less that the local government of Sagbayan is too excited to allow their operation thus resulting in this problem on hand. Will Sagbayan and Bohol order its demolition is another story. I just hope that this could be a learning experience even for us here in Western Visayas. Afterall, many inland resorts, to date, are now proudly standing in several protected and sensitive areas across the region.

Sadly, power and money oftentimes play major roles in these concerns. In the guise of tourism, the natural environment and even the watersheds are allowed to be compromised without regard to its eventual effect. The Department of the Interior and Local Government, DENR, Department of Tourism and even the Department of Agriculture must work together to approach these problems so as not to compromise the environment over the prospects of tourism.