Coral World Park (CWP), the firm behind the controversial underwater theme park in Coron, is seeking approval from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to designate its property in Coron as a mixed-use economic zone in a bid to revive its project.
The Filipino company, which earlier broke off with its erstwhile partner for the project, Viacom International Media Networks’ (VIMN) following opposition from locals and environmental groups told Palawan News recently it had not abandoned the project.
“There has never been a change to our plans,” CWP chairman and chief executive officer Paul Monozca said in a statement emailed to Palawan News last weekend.
He said their company has been asked by PEZA Director-General Charito Plaza to file an application for its property.
“The company just heard of PEZA and our incentives when they heard me speak in Singapore’s European Companies Investment Forum. They’re pushing through now,” Plaza said in a Facebook post on May 10. “PEZA will wait for their documents.”
Earlier in 2017, CWP and its former partner Viacom International Media Networks’ (VIMN) global kids brand Nickelodeon announced plans to pursue a 400-hectare undersea development, showcasing Coron’s marine life that would give visitors a chance to “interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love.”
Opposition to the project, however, prompted VIMN last year to cut ties with the CWP, declaring in a statement both their companies “mutually agreed” to “discontinue the IP (intellectual property) licensing agreement for the Nickelodeon-branded attraction and resort.”
VIMN Asia Pacific’s vice president for corporate communications Adeline Ong told Palawan News they continue to have no more association with the project.
“We have not been involved with this proposed development since then,” Ong told Palawan News in a separate email.
Monozca accused environmentalists of spreading lies against the project, claiming they had been subjected to an “environmental terrorist attack”.
“Our delays are due to infrastructure requirements and government related matters and nothing more,” he explained.
The CWP chief clarified their property is “on-land,” situated in Coron town, which forms part of Busuanga Island.
“Our property is not on Coron Island where the Tagbanua tribe is located… there is a difference on both locations,” he emphasized.
The site, Monozca added, is “a former mining area” without trees.
“We are very surprised with some people saying we will destroy 400 hectares of corals. Again, [our] property is on-land,” he said.
As to the concerns on underwater development, Monozca said they will place “a few floating pods the size of a yacht.”
“Our supporting facility is floating and not anchored; it’s just like a boat,” he added.
Environmentalists, however, remained firm in their stand against the project.
“Our position on the issue is still the same – that the project will only destroy the fragile ecosystem of Coron, and will disadvantage the local economy,” Vince Cinches, Philippines oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, told Palawan News.