MANILA - Environment groups on Wednesday expressed relief over the withdrawal of media giant Viacom from a planned undersea theme park in Coron, Palawan.
“We commend Viacom International Media Networks, the media company that owns Nickelodeon, for heeding to the call of over 260,000 online petitioners and local communities to disengage with Coral World Park," said Save Philippine Seas executive director Anna Oposa, who was one of the petitioners in the website Bataris.org.ph.
Environment groups partnered with Palawan residents, nature tourism advocates and indigenous peoples organizations for the campaign, which garnered more than 250,000 signatures to block the proposed project.
The undersea theme park was supposed to be built in Coron and would include a floating restaurant, hotel, and condominium building in the province.
The project, which was announced earlier this year, sparked criticisms from environmentalists and other groups, noting that the project could destroy the area's marine ecosystem.
"VIMN’s decision to cut-off its ties with CWP shows that the real power lies in the hands of the people, especially our Tagbanua brothers and sisters, who fiercely opposed the project,"said Oposa.
"As a child-friendly and family-oriented channel, Nickelodeon is best not to be associated with a potentially destructive structure that will negatively affect the lives, livelihood, and culture of the people of Coron," she added.
Gerthie Mayo-Anda, Environmental Legal Assistance Center Palawan executive director, said environmental groups will continue to oppose the proposed project of Coral World Park "and for future investors not to risk their money and their name on questionable and destructive projects."
Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines Oceans and Political Campaigner Vince Cinches said the resistance that met the planned project is a warning to companies that "environmentally destructive projects, such as the proposed undersea attraction, will never be welcome in Palawan, and in any other islands in the Philippines."
Former Environment Secretary-designate Gina Lopez said she would not allow the construction of underwater theme park if it will damage the environment.
After initially announcing that Nickelodeon will push through with its plan to build the theme park, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo clarified that the decision of approving permits for its construction will fall into the hands of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government unit.