Capitol warns vs. ‘bikini open’ events

By Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 13:31:00 04/07/2009

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Resort owners and event organizers planning to stage “bikini open” type activities in Cebu province during the Holy Week face stiff penalties for doing so, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia warned Monday.

The governor pointed to the Provincial Women’s Code that prohibits indecent activities like bikini contests since it “humiliates women.”

Companies, which insist in holding these programs, will face possible revocation of their business permits and a fine of P5,000 or both.

“I will see to it that obscenity and vulgarity which are the essence of bikini shows shall have no place in the Province of Cebu,” Garcia said.

The governor said the display of flesh in bikini contests “desecrate womanhood.”

Six parish priests from the northern towns of Cebu petitioned the governor and the provincial board for an ordinance that would ban “bikini competitions” and “Jamaican nights” especially during the Holy Week, which is the holiest period for Catholics.

The letter was hand-carried by Fr. Antonio Medida, parish priest of the Sts. Peter and Paul Parishes in Bantayan town on Bantayan Island, to the governor’s office on March 26.

It was also signed by priests from parishes on Bantayan Island, Bogo City and Daanbantayan town.

Garcia said she intends to issue an executive order before the Holy Week break to remind local officials of the Provincial Women’s Code, which the board passed in 2005, and the need to implement its provisions.

Board Member Agnes Magpale said they could not impose the same prohibition in Lapu-Lapu City since it is independent of the province after it was declared a highly urbanized city.

Chapter 3, Article 1, Section 5 of the Women’s Code prohibits the conduct of beauty contests and other activities in schools, barangays (villages) and other areas that tend to “commodify, abuse, humiliate and treat women as sex objects.”

Chapter 6 provides penalties for the violation of the ordinance, which include the possible revocation of the business permit of companies that organize bikini competitions.

Magpale, Provincial Board committee chairperson on women and children, said she was confident that a ban on bikini contests in the province would not affect local tourism.

“We should be attracting the right kinds of tourists and not the tourists who just come here for sex,” she said. The Women’s Code prohibits extreme show of flesh.

Corporations that organize events which violate the code may also lose the permit to operate their business in the province.

“They can still organize beauty pageants but not those that are indecent and those that humiliate women,” Magpale said.

Magpale said there are beauty pageants that required the use of swimwear, which were “tolerated” by the provincial government.

But in the bikini contests, some women drenched themselves with water or beer while dancing in skimpy bikinis.

“We have not been remiss even in reminding mayors of the code. We do not even ban beauty contests but not the indecent ones,” she said.

In 2007, Garcia walked out of a beauty pageant held in Boljoon town, northern Cebu after she saw women parade on stage in skimpy attires.

Following the incident, the governor announced she would no longer be extending financial assistance to fiesta celebrations that would organize such beauty pageants.

The governor also warned all chief executive and public officials that she would file charges against anyone caught violating the provisions of the Provincial Women’s Code.

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