Sen. Binay presses need to review retirees’ visa

Sen. Binay presses need to review retirees’ visa

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:30 AM April 08, 2024

Nancy Binay

Nancy Binay

Sen. Nancy Binay on Sunday renewed her call on the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to strictly screen and vet visa applications as she expressed alarm over reports of an alleged “Chinese mafia” using passports with special resident retiree visas (SRRV).

“This is worrisome since these foreign nationals enter and exit the country using valid documents that we know were obtained through illicit ways,” Binay said in a statement.


The senator reiterated her call after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) earlier reported that it arrested in Palawan four Chinese nationals suspected to be behind the proliferation of fraudulently acquired government-issued identification cards and documents, including genuine Philippine passports with questionable SRRVs.


READ: Binay seeks strict measures in screening applicants for retiree visas

Among those arrested was the alleged mastermind of the operation, who earned notoriety in the Palawan community for being a fraudster who supposedly leads a local syndicate providing illegally obtained government-issued documents to undesirable aliens and trafficking victims.

During the operation, several Philippine-issued IDs were found and seized from the foreign nationals, including their driver’s licenses, postal IDs, and birth certificates.

For foreign investments’ sake

According to Binay, the issuance and renewal of SRRVs have long been exploited, adding that Chinese syndicates have “likely connived, maintained ties and established networks within the government bureaucracy.”

“Visa fraud and fake identities adversely impact national security. What’s largely alarming is the PRA policy of allowing Chinese SRRV applicants who are 35 years old, which can be categorized as ‘soldier’s age’,” she said.

Binay said she finds PRA’s age limit concerning and noted how foreigners can exploit this to work in the country without going through the proper channels.


The SRRV was supposed to have been suspended in 2022, purportedly because of the unusually large number of young Chinese “retirees” who presented the residency privilege. Binay was one of the lawmakers who sought the program’s suspension.

The Inquirer tried but failed to confirm on Sunday whether the PRA had indeed resumed the issuance of SRRV under previous conditions.

“There should be security measures and the vetting process on applications should be tightened regardless of nationality,” she said.

PRA official arrested

It can be noted that last year, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested a high-ranking PRA official for issuing unwarranted SRRV cards to foreigners.

The BI also discovered several cases of foreign nationals pretending to be Filipinos by using different Philippine documents and genuine immigration stamps.

“We have repeatedly mentioned about Pogo (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator) workers who reportedly happen to be SRRV holders. But what’s more alarming was the arrest of these four Chinese nationals that were able to obtain retiree visas in the Philippines,” Binay said.

The PRA records show that there are about 78,000 foreign retirees in the Philippines, and about 30,000 Chinese “retirees” have been allowed to permanently reside in the country, many of them young “retirees.”

“The growing number of interceptions of Chinese nationals presenting authentic government-issued Philippine documents identifying them as Filipino traders or retirees has now become a national security concern,” Binay said.

“What are the monitoring mechanism of the PRA to check if these’retirees’ together with those who pose as ‘investor-class immigrants’ are really legitimate?” she asked.

During the Senate hearing in 2020, Binay questioned if the PRA has a way of monitoring if these retirees have truly stopped working since the probability of them competing with local jobs is high.

She added that a whole-of-government response is necessary to identify syndicates issuing fraudulently acquired government IDs, including visas and passports, and to take tougher action against foreign nationals conducting illegal activities in the Philippines.

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“We expect Nica (the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) to help assess the scale of fraud perpetrated by these syndicates and check the addresses and contact numbers provided in their ‘valid’ documents,” Binay added. INQ

TAGS: Nancy Binay, retirees, visa

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