DTI agencies endorsed only 20,000 special visas since 1988

DTI agencies endorsed only 20,000 special visas since 1988

Investment promotion agencies under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have issued and endorsed only about 20,000 visas allowing foreigners to work and reside in the country, a fourth of the estimated 80,000 visas dispensed by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA).

The disclosure followed calls for a review of the processes involved in the issuance of special visas that lawmakers believed were being abused by unscrupulous foreigners to be able to engage in illegal activities in the Philippines.

Ryan Ramos, the director at the Incentives Administration Service of the Board of Investments (BOI), told the Inquirer on Thursday that since 1988, they have evaluated and endorsed around 3,000 special investor’s resident visas (SIRVs), including those for their dependents.


“On average, around 50 percent are Chinese in the SIRVs endorsed from 2020 to 2024,” Ramos said in a Viber message.


The BOI official added that they have endorsed 71 applications to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) so far this year, in addition to 80 in 2023, 42 in 2022, 29 in 2021, and 18 in 2020.

The BOI’s SIRV is a government program aimed at attracting foreign investments into the country, requiring investors to remit and invest at least $75,000 into the Philippines.

Antiquated program

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), meanwhile, issued 17,592 visas from November 2021 to April 2024, according to its legal affairs group manager, Jenny Romero.

“The Peza visa is not an entry visa. It is equivalent to a working visa,” she said in an interview with dzXL radio station on Thursday.

READ: Immigration logs 23.6% revenue increase due to tourist visa extensions

Romero said the Chinese were “only fourth in the list, a very small number (at) 1,812,” of top recipients by nationality, behind the Japanese, Indians, and South Koreans.


Still, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers has called on his colleagues to amend the BOI’s antiquated SIRV program, now feared to be used as a “ticket” by some foreign drug syndicates, money launderers and other criminal elements to set up their base of operations in the Philippines.

In a statement on Thursday, he said this has inadvertently made the country a haven for foreign individuals who enter ostensibly to invest but instead engage in illegal activities.

Barbers said he also got complaints from Filipino retailers that the program was now being used by Chinese nationals with retail stores in the country to sell smuggled cheap goods from China.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) has offered to assist the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the deportation of illegal and undesirable Chinese nationals by providing air transportation arrangements for them.

System being abused

Under a memorandum of understanding signed on Thursday, the DOJ would facilitate the determination of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are ready for deportation back to the People’s Republic of China, while FFCCCII would assist in flying them back home through chartered flights. In the Senate, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he believed that one of the possible motives that prompted Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo, to fake her citizenship was for her to acquire properties in the country.

Gatchalian said this was proof that the country’s birth certificate system, particularly late registration, was being abused.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Noting that only Filipinos were allowed to buy land, he said, “we know that Alice Guo or Guo Hua Ping have bought a lot of land (and) how many such cases do we have in our country?” —WITH REPORTS FROM TINA G. SANTOS AND JANE BAUTISTA

TAGS: DTI, visa

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.