THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
Foreign retirees who have availed the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) under the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) are wondering if the government is really sincere in attracting foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to retire, invest and permanently reside in the Philippines. As it is, the holders of the SRRV are finding it hard to re-enter the country despite being SRRV holders.
While other business visa holders such as those who applied with the country’s export and special ecozones are allowed to exit and re-enter the country without hassles and delays, the SRRV holders who have paid their membership fees, invested and bought properties in the Philippines such as condominiums still have to wait a tedious process to re-enter the country. They say the Department of Tourism still will process their SRRV and will forward them to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The process could take weeks or months which, according to the SRRV holders are not experienced by other visa holders .i.e. the Aurora Province Economic Zone.
The PRA, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, was mandated by law to attract foreign retirees to invest and reside in the country indefinitely, with multiple entry and exit, without necessarily being an immigrant to the Philippines.
At the moment, according to a senior PRA official who requested not to be named said there are more than 70 retirees from the Asian Development Bank who wanted to retire in the Philippines but are wondering why the program is not doing what it is supposed to do, make it easy for foreign retirees to retire in the Philippines.
She said the PRA is an income earning government agency attached to the Department of Tourism. The PRA contributes to the Philippine coffers and its income comes mainly from PRA and SRRV membership fees and other PRA charges. Last year it contributed P254 million to the Balikatan program of the Duterte administration.
She said that processing of PRA membership has been suspended since October 2020. With the suspension the PRA is losing P450,000 a day. This amount is supposed to be guaranteed income of the government if not for the suspension. She said her heart breaks every time she sees the pile of documents that cannot be processed because of the suspension.
She said retired diplomats including ambassadors, many from Europe wanted to retire in the Philippines after their term of office. According to her, these foreign diplomats described the Philippines as a
hot tropical country but the people are warm and friendly, so they want to retire in the Philippines.’’ Mary S. Ang, President of the PRA Accredited Marketers Association Inc. laments the suspension. In a letter sent to President Rodrigo Duterte dated December 17, 2020, it says in part:When our ports are closed sometime in March, many PRA visa holders were abroad for many reasons. After the completion of affairs abroad, they wanted to re-enter the Philippines to be reunited with their families. However, the Bureau of immigration or the IATF still did not include the PRA’s Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV) from the list of exempt individuals or those allowed to enter the Philippines……
However, many of our clients /retirees who wanted to re-enter would eventually cancel their SRRVisas due to the suspension in the acceptance of the visa applications. (more next week).