By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Bohol Rep. Erico Aumentado wants to declare the Chocolate Hills in the province as a National Patrimony, Natural Heritage Park and Geological Monument.
He cited the need for the government to protect the 1,268 Chocolate Hills in the towns of Carmen, Sagbayan and Batuan from destruction, pillage and defacement.
“The iconic hills are considered as the crown jewels of Bohol’s tourism. It is one of the wonders of the world and the Philippines’ major tourist attraction because of the grandeur, the majesty and unique geological formation of the hills, ” Aumentado said.
He filed House Bill 4058, the proposed Chocolate Hills Protection Act, to protect and preserve the Chocolate Hills found in the 32 barangays in the municipalities of Carmen, Sagbayan and Batuan in Bohol.
The measure prohibits the quarrying or hauling of limestone, rock, soil and road materials in the iconic hills.
“The bill has been approved by the Committee on Ecology in the 16th Congress and seeks to prevent the destruction, pillage, despoilage or defacement of the iconic hills to preserve their status as national patrimony and natural heritage park and geological monuments,” Aumentado said.
Those who cause the pillage of the Chocolate Hills shall be meted with 12 to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from P60,000 to P120,000.
Those who destroy the hills shall face, eight to 12 years of imprisonment and a fine of P85,000 to P120,000 shall await the violators.
Those who cause the defacement of the iconic hills shall be punished with six years to eight years of imprisonment and a fine of P60,000 to P84,000.
HB 4058 tasks the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.
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