BECAUSE of the “extra services” that some massage parlors may be offering, some masseuses operating in the city are required to have weekly health exams, like those required of commercial sex workers and guest relations officers (GROs) in nightclubs.

City Health Department (CHD) chief Dr. Fe Cabugao assured they are closely monitoring the health of employees of some massage parlors, including those offering the “lingam” massage, or the massage of a man’s genitals.

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Cebu Archbishop Ricar-do Cardinal Vidal yesterday asked authorities to look into some massage parlors in the city which allegedly offer the “lingam” or penile massages.

“It promotes immorality, therefore, it is not good for the city,” said the archbishop.

The Cebu City Council raised their concern on the massage that’s growing in popularity, “as its ultimate effect would lead to the solicitation of prostitution.”

Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he will leave it to the new officials of the Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB) to decide how the issue should be addressed.

The mayor, however, has yet to name the new chairman after he refused to renew the appointment of Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer when it expired last Jan. 21.

Before the police can act on massage parlors offering “lingam” massages, a police official said it would be best if it’s made clear that the service violates any law.

Cebu City Police Chief Patrocinio Comendador said he only heard about the furor in the press, although there were some discussions about the massage service last year.

Local agencies, especially the City Anti-Indecency Board and health officials, should assess the way the massage is done and determine if it is illegal, he said, since there are some claims the massage has health benefits.

Comendador explained the police have to catch a masseuse in the act of doing something indecent before they can take action.

Chief Insp. Aileen Recla, chief of the City Intelligence Branch, also said they need the presence of CAIB to conduct raids against indecent and lewd practices inside massage parlors, because they are banking on a city ordinance to back them up.

Recla said they know of three massage parlors that offer “extra services” and that they have submitted these to the CAIB so they can build up the case.

But with the change in leadership of CAIB, Recla said they have not been able to move on with the case.

For now, Dr. Cabugao said the monitoring of the employees’ health is the only intervention they can make, since they have no authority to stop a massage parlor’s operations.

“We have included massage parlors in our monitoring, but only those that possibly give extra services. They are considered as being in the same category as the night establishments because of the risk factors, although not all of them (offer questionable services), as indicated by the physical layout of their establishment,” she said yesterday.

When he was still active in CAIB, former chairman Bullecer said they constantly monitored massage parlors for possible violations of the Anti-Indecency Ordinance and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law.

Until the mayor signs the appointment of the new CAIB officers, City Councilor Arsenio Pacaña said they will rely on the CHD to monitor establishments offering the “lingam” massage.

Pacaña learned that “lingam” has gained popularity since it is believed to be a preventive therapy for elderly male clients who may be having prostate problems.

“As a center of tourism, we want to be known not for sexual activities in massage parlors but for our nice people, our rich cultural heritage. By stopping these immoral practices, we can also prevent infidelity,” he added.

The mayor has consulted Lihok Pilipina and Bantay Banay Director Tessie Fernandez to identify possible candidates to replace Bullecer as head of CAIB.

But Fernandez said she can’t recommend a replacement since the ordinance states the chairman should come from the City Legal Office.

Bullecer had chaired CAIB since 2005 but was not an employee of the City Government or even connected with the City Legal Office. (ETB)