The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has yet to receive a formal communication from the project proponents on the proposed Nickelodeon underwater theme park in Coron, Palawan, but it intends to place it under close scrutiny.
“In an anticipatory and participatory approach, however, I have directed the DENR bureaus on Biodiversity Management, Environmental Management and the Region IV-B office, together with the PCSD, in close coordination with the Department of Tourism, the local government units, the Tagbanuas and their council of elders and other key stakeholders, to undertake an inquiry into this proposed plan, so that at the outset we can ensure that we continue to conserve and protect this last bastion of coastal biodiversity in Palawan,”
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu said Thursday.
In a statement, Cimatu noted the DENR and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) are now waiting for a project proposal.
The DENR intends to conduct a thorough inquiry, in consultation with key stakeholders, into the proposed project to ensure that social, economic, ecological and human interests are factored in once the proposal is evaluated.
Coron forms part of the Calamianes Group of Islands and is a Key Marine Biodiversity Area with a high rate of flora and fauna endemism that supports the life of the communities in the area. It is also the ancestral domain of the indigenous Tagbanua tribe.
Reject Nickelodeon project
The militant Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) challenged Cimatu to reject the proposed underwater theme park, which threatens the abundant marine resources and livelihood of the fisherfolk in the province.
Despite the flak from netizens, fisherfolk and environmentalists, proponents Coral World Park Undersea Resorts and the Viacom International Media Networks are still bent on pursuing the project, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday.
“Environment Secretary Cimatu should prove his worth,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA chairperson said in a statement. The group claimed the proposed project involves the threat of environmental degradation against the country’s last ecological frontier and its marine resources.
“Thus we challenge the newly-appointed DENR chief to release a public statement deploring the Palawan project and that he stands on the side of the fisherfolk who will be affected if the destructive project pushes through,” Hicap added.
PAMALAKAYA is urging the DENR not to issue an environmental permit for the project. Any project that poses potential environmental impact is required to acquire an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR by submitting an Environmental Impact Statement.
“The last thing the DENR could do to preserve our last ecological frontier is to abstain from securing this project with an ECC,” Hicap said.
PAMALAKAYA noted Cimatu’s predecessor, Gina Lopez, opposed the project and declared Palawan off-limits to destructive projects.
“Cimatu should follow the path of Lopez—a road towards genuine protection of the environment without putting the lives of the ordinary people at stake. If this project pushes forward, we have nothing to blame but the new DENR chief Cimatu who until now shows no ethos in genuine environment-protection and even continuing Lopez’ actions against giant destructive mines,” said Hicap.