DOH supports reclassifying spas, massage parlors
The Department of Helath (DOH) 7 supports a proposal to reclassify massage parlors and spa as belonging to the “health and wellness sector” in the tax ordinance of Cebu City.
In a public hearing, the health department, in a position paper, expressed its full support, saying the change was timely and relevant.
At present, these establishments are labled under the entertainment and amusement sector.
Cebu City Administrator Lucelle Mercado objected to changing the status, saying the city would no longer be able to collect P10 for every customer under the present system.
She expressed her opposition to the proposed amendment of Councilor Nida Cabrera to Article 2 Section 4 City Tax Ordinance 122 seeking to strengthen the social amelioration program of Cebu City.
“Massage parlors are part of the health and wellness tourism industry which is a priority sector according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),” Cabrera explained.
She noted that many tourist come to Cebu City to avail of these services.
But Mercado, representing the city’s Accelerated Social Amelioration Program (ASAP), objected.
“If customers are willing to pay P230 for an hour of foot massage, then the P10 they pay for relaxation means practically nothing to them, she said.
There’s a thin line, she said, between wellness and relaxation or entertainment.
“Also, I would like to point out that there are a lot of them (massage parlors) giving extra services,” she said, referring to illicit sexual favors that some customers pay for.
Councilor Margot Osmeña said massage parlors “fall under the city health department.”
“ It is very clearly stated here that it is being regulated by the health department,” Osmeña said.
Also present during the public hearing was the president of the Spa and Wellness Association of Cebu Johnie Lim who owns Body & Sole Franchise Corp., one of the largest spa chains in the country.
The association strongly supports the reclassification.
“The issue is not really about the amelioration tax. If we are classified under entertainment then we operators don’t have to train our people (to become therapists),” he said.
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