CEBU CITY -- Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Agnes Magpale favors an outright ban on lingam massage services, but said she isn't sure she'll get the support of the entire PB.

The Provincial Women's Commission (PWC) may draft an ordinance for the ban. So can the PB committee on women and children.

Whether it will be approved by the entire board, where men outnumber women, 13-2, remains to be seen.

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"I am hopeful (they'll support it), that's why I'm very careful about this issue," said Magpale, who heads both the PWC and the PB's committee on women.

A church official, meanwhile, appealed to the City Governments of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue to strictly regulate tourism establishments, so these businesses won't be tainted with prostitution.

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The lack of strict monitoring may encourage abuse, said Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and PB Member Magpale recently received a letter from a lingam massage operator, who defended the practice as a form of stress-relieving therapy that tour operators reportedly promote to Chinese, Korean, and Japanese tourists in Cebu.

Magpale said she's trying to hear both sides of the issue, but finds it degrading for women to provide the lingam massage service, which involves massaging a man's privates.

PB Member Sun Shimura said he supports Magpale's view not to issue permits for lingam massage centers. He said the issue came up during their caucus last week and majority of the PB members are against lingam massage because of its impact on women and the society in general.

He said clients, especially men, should support only "legitimate" massage parlors.

"Obvious nga binuang na (The lingam service is obviously a form of hanky-panky)," he added.

Msgr. Dakay, interviewed separately, said unless the massage parlors are strictly regulated, it will be like the government's failure to enforce conditions on the sale of liquor.

He blamed lenient regulations and the lack of support from local governments for the continued violation of restrictions on the sale of alcohol (which includes a ban near schools).

Getting rid of lingam massage establishments should start as an individual effort, said the monsignor.

"Everybody should stop patronizing these massage parlors in order to stop their operation," said Dakay.

Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu City have conducted operations to curb lingam massage parlors in their areas, ordering them to close because of unsanitary practices or the lack of permits. (JKV/RSA/Sun.Star Cebu)