PUERTO PRINCESA - Environmentalists and indigenous communities from Coron on Thursday strongly opposed the construction of a planned Nickelodeon underwater theme park in Palawan.
In a dialogue held in Puerto Princesa, one of the leaders of Tagbanua Tribes of Coron Island Association, Inc. (TTCIA) expressed concern over possible displacement of indigenous peoples and local communities once the project is given a green light.
"Nangangamba rin po kami doon sa Coron dahil bilang mga katutubo, dahil magkakaroon ng project Nickelodeon kasi malaking epekto sa aming lugar lalo na sa aming katutubong bahura," said Armil Abella, representative of TTCIA.
Fifteen tribal justices on July 12 submitted a petition paper addressed to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, reiterating their rights over the island.
TTCIA said the government has recognized IP rights over Coron Island and its ancestral waters, and that natural resources should sustain the livelihood, tradition, and culture of the Tagbanua.
Greenpeace Philippines, meanwhile, conducted community consultation in Coron.
"Walang lugar sa Palawan ang ganitong kalaking destructive na project, kailangan natin ng support sa rehabilitation and protecion of our natural resources," said Vince Cinchez, oceans campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.
The planned theme park has drawn flak from environmental and civil society groups since its announcement in January.
In May, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said the project would push through and that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will make the decision on the project's approval.
Teo later said that the decision of approving permits for the construction of the controversial theme park in Palawan will fall into the hands of the DENR.
Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez on June 23 said the project will not be allowed if it will be construct underwater.
"There is no application and beside they will not be allowed to construct underwater," Alvarez told reporters.
Greenpeace Philippines said an online petition against the construction of the theme park has gathered over 200,000 signatures, with the #CoronisnotBikiniBottom trending on social media.