MANILA - Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said Wednesday she would not allow US television network Nickelodeon to build an underwater theme park in Palawan if it will damage the environment.
While Lopez said she was not aware of any application from Nickelodeon, she said "I will never allow the corals to be harmed, that's what we have, that's our wealth. You cant kill the corals for a theme park, no way."
"We will not allow anything that will damage the environment. No amount of money is worth the well being of our farmers and fishermen," she said.
Lopez was a known environment crusader before she joined government in June. Her causes include reviving the polluted Pasig River and protecting the La Mesa Watershed, the capital's last forest reserve.
She has embarked on an inspection of the entire mining industry and cited at least 20 companies for violation of safety regulations and possible suspension.
Nickelodeon, home to SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer, said the proposed 400-hectare underwater park would showcase marine life in what is dubbed the Philippines "last frontier."
The network's parent, Viacom, said the resort would open in 2020 and feature restaurants and lounges six meters below sea level.
Environment groups launched a signature campaign to urge the network and local government officials to drop plans for the park.
They coined the hashtag #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom to reject the project. Bikini Bottom is SpongeBob's undersea home in the eponymous series.
The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, a government body, said the project had yet to be approved. -- With Agence France-Presse and Primy Cane, ABS-CBN News