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FIRING LINE: Ombudsman probes Chocolate Hills resort

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Hooray and thank you to Ombudsman Samuel Martires for investigating the abominable desecration of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol.

Somehow, it reeks of being very un-Filipino that certain individuals or entities had the audacity to erect Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort amid this UNESCO World Heritage Site. What an insult to our nation’s natural treasure and what a dumb understanding of the significance of preserving our environmental heritage!

House Minority Leader Erwin Tulfo says such a brazen construction of resorts within this protected area also reeks of negligence and corruption at both local and national levels.

For UP Professor and environmental law expert Dan Gatmaitan, the National Integrated Protected Systems Act is a clear testament to protecting such sites. Based on this legal framework, any land title holder to a portion of the Chocolate Hills has nothing more than “bragging rights” and flatly no options for its use.

The law also has the state as the primary enforcer of the law on restricting any commercial activities on these hallowed grounds. So, the mere existence of a swimming pool at the foot of these mounds is a stark reminder of the unchecked exploitation facilitated by the connivance of those entrusted with safeguarding our natural wonders.

The Chocolate Hills stand as a testament to our country’s geological marvels, yet they now bear witness to the insatiable greed of a few individuals. This is not merely a violation; it’s a betrayal of our heritage, and those responsible must be held to account with the full force of the law.

Water management, please!

Speaking of El Niño, the good news is that Metro Manila’s water allocation will be maintained at 50 cubic meters per second, crucial for sustaining the densely populated capital’s demand.

It’s also good to hear that efforts like pressure management and cloud seeding operations reflect proactive measures to mitigate the impact of climate patterns of severe droughts on agriculture and water resources.

Declining water levels in Angat Dam have more than underscored the urgency of continued vigilance and planning for remedial actions.

Hope springs, though, in anticipating a potential La Niña, according to the state weather bureau. Still, the increased rainfall it brings should correctly benefit our dams — something that cannot be planned. 

We could only raise louder voices to ensure that the government employs effective management and planning, which are essential to addressing the damaging effects of El Niño and La Niña. Already, the prolonged dry spells have resulted in agricultural losses hitting P1.75 billion as we speak.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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