Palawan’s Nickelodeon Park gets green light

THE Department of Tourism has confirmed that the planned underwater Nickelodeon Park in Palawan is pushing through despite vehement objections by various environmentalist groups to the planned attraction.

The project is seen by netizens and environmentalists as destructive to the underwater ecosystem. The issue has even reached the court, which is yet to act on it. 

CNN Philippines even featured the project in its June 2017 show with Viacom International Media Networks, project owner, affirming its continuance.

Environmental advocates have been calling for the scrapping of the project as it would affect the untouched corals with all those planned underwater tourist attractions.

 

Excited 

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo is defending the project vowing that “we are not going to destroy the corals. The restaurant will be floating, and you will be able to see [the corals]... Of course we know that we will preserve the place.'"

"The DOT is aware of the planned Coral World Park in Coron. From a tourism perspective, the DOT is excited about the idea because this would attract both local and foreign tourists. But with regard to the approval of such a concept, the DOT would properly refer the matter to the appropriate agencies that can evaluate and decide on it," she continued.

 

No to Nickelodeon’s Underwater Theme Park  

Netizens and environmentalists used the social media in spreading their stiff opposition to the project through the use of hashtags like  #CoronisNotBikiniBottom. 

To date, a total of over 200,000 signed Anna Oposa, executive director of Save Philippine Seas, online petition “No to Nickelodeon’s Underwater Theme park in Palawan.” 

 “For a channel that targets children, Nickelodeon is setting a terrible example to the younger generation by taking away their right to enjoy our natural resources. We don't need an underwater theme park -- our underwater life is fascinating, entertaining, and educational on its own ” she said in her website Bataris

The idea of having an underwater park in Coron, was also opposed by former Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, saying it would damage corals in the area.

John Vincente Fabello, head counsel of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) told Rappler that, “we do not categorically say we will accept the project, but as far as we’re concerned we have to look into their documents when they apply for a clearance.

 

SEP Clearance

PCSD is a multi-sectoral and intergovernmental body tasked to enforce Republic Act 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Palawan (SEP) Act.  

PCSD may only issue a SEP clearance to projects which pass its 3 guiding principles – ecological viability, social acceptability, and integrated approach. 

On top of a SEP clearance, lawyer Jansen Jontilla of Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center said Nickelodoen also needs to secure an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the DENR, and free prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) if it enters into areas considered ancestral waters.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) earlier challenged Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to likewise to release a public statement “deploring” the Coron project. 

“The least the DENR could do to preserve our last ecological frontier is to abstain from securing this project with an [Environmental Compliance Certificate],” Hicap added. (Maria Elyza Silva, Trainee)

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