Updated 14:19 PM PHT Wed, January 11, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Amid online furor over a plan by U.S. media conglomerate Viacom to put up a children's underwater theme park in one of Palawan's pristine islands, local officials on Wednesday denied receiving any communication from the company on the project.
Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom International Media Networks, said in a Tuesday press statement that it would put up a 100-hectare undersea-themed development in Coron as part of the 400-hectare development of Coral World Park, Viacom's Philippine partner.
Palawan Governor Pepito Alvarez told CNN Philippines that his office has not received any application to put up the theme park.
"How can I comment on something when we haven't even gotten an application yet?" Alvarez said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said Wednesday on Twitter that she would not allow such a theme park to be put up.
Lopez says she won't allow the underwater theme park in Palawan. #environment2017— DENR (@DENR_Official) January 11, 2017
Viacom said the theme park will be inspired by Nickelodeon's "iconic properties" like Spongebob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It also said the park will have "one-of-its-kind resort dining experience with CWP's (Coral World Park) trademark underwater restaurants and lounges, which will be located about 20 feet below sea level with vivid views of the world beneath the ocean."
Netizens and environmentalists were quick to denounce the plan, using the hashtag #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom, referring to the underwater town where the characters of Spongebob Squarepants, live in.
We must protect our biodiversity at all costs. Especially against corporate interests that undermine those efforts #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom— John Carlo Beltran (@jcbeltraaan) January 11, 2017
Guys hindi kailangan ng Coron ng underwater theme park. It IS an underwater theme park. #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom— Camille B. Naredo (@camillenaredo) January 11, 2017
Bes, try mo sa BERMUDA TRIANGLE ! Kaloka. #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom— Madam Lucy ツ (@itsMadamLucy) January 11, 2017
An online petition calling for a stop to the supposed project has already reached over 96,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
Officials in Coron also told CNN Philippines that they were unaware of such plans.
"Our office has no knowledge of this project," said Coron Palawan Tourism Officer Corinne Kong.
Meanwhile, the office of Coron Mayor Ajerico Barracdo said this is the first time it has heard of this project and that they have never talked to Viacom.
The Nickelodeon park is expected to open in 2020.