Foreigners use investor's registration visa in perpetuating crimes – Barbers | Inquirer News

Foreigners use investor’s registration visa in perpetuating crimes – Barbers

/ 05:07 PM June 20, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers added his voice to the view that the country’s Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) program has been abused by foreigners.

The program is given to business persons who are setting up enterprises in the Philippines.

In a statement on Thursday, Barbers said the SIRV is being used to gain access to the country by carrying money worth P4.8 million.


“For a price of P4.8 million (P58.51 to US$1), a member of a criminal syndicate can enter, stay, and eventually conduct their illegal activities in the country using the SIRV program as a cover,” Barbers said in Filipino.


“And for foreigners, particularly for Chinese drug syndicates and money launderers, the price of P4.8 million is merely spare change for them, especially in this current time compared to what they can earn with their illegal activities,” he explained.

According to Barbers, legitimate Filipino-Chinese business people have complained about the SIRV being abused because legal businesses are being edged out by unfair competition.

“These are some of the complaints brought to us by our Filipino-Chinese brothers and sisters engaged in the local retail businesses. They have either lost income or closed shop,” Barbers said.

“These Chinese can no longer be considered as investors. And because they flock to the country, they also compete with Filipino-Chinese businesses,” he noted.

The SIRV program was one of the issues discussed by the House of Representatives’ committee on dangerous drugs during its hearing on Wednesday.

The probe was about the illegal drugs tracked down by authorities from the Port of Subic in Zambales to a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga.


READ: P3.6-B worth of shabu seized in Pampanga 

After it was eventually revealed that the warehouse was owned by Empire 999 Realty Corporation, controlled by a certain Willie Ong, the committee dug deeper.

It found ties to other businesses owned by seemingly Chinese individuals.

The topic on the SIRV was opened after Barbers, who heads the committee, asked Omni Philippines President Henry Bigay how he was able to obtain both a Chinese and a Philippine passport.

Bigay attended the hearing on behalf of his father, who owns Yatai International Corporation — which is linked to Empire 999 Realty Corporation.

The corporation owns the warehouse in Mexico where the drugs were supposed to be stored.

During the discussions, it was revealed that Bigay’s father was able to enter the Philippines by having an SIRV.

Bigay was classified as ‘native-born’ — someone born in the Philippines to foreigners.

READ: House probe reveals Chinoy businessman has two questionable passports 

Lawmakers have drawn comparisons between the statements given by Bigay and suspended Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo, in terms of how they were raised by single fathers, and why their births were registered late.

READ: Sounds familiar? Chinoy businessman’s story draws comparisons to Alice Guo 

Guo is being accused also of benefitting from the SIRV program.

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian raised the possibility that the local chief executive’s real name is Guo Hua Ping, who was born on August 31, 1990 to Chinese parents.


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