House on probing possible special visa abuse

Probe into reported abuse of special visa programs pushed

/ 12:51 PM June 18, 2024

Probe into reported abuse of special visa programs pushed

House of Representatives plenary. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — A House of Representatives probe into the reported abuse of the country’s special visa programs amid the influx of Chinese nationals and other foreigners in the country is being pushed by Deputy Majority Leader and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo.

Tulfo on Tuesday filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1771, which asks appropriate House panels to check on two programs offered by the country to foreign nationals — the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) and the Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV).


According to Tulfo, he received reports that foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, were availing of the SRRV despite being aged 35 to 50 — while some applicants of the SIRV were said to be ordinary employees looking for a way to stay in the country, and eventually work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (Pogos).


“This is House Resolution No. 1771 urging Congress to look into these reports that the provision of retirees visas to foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals, are being abused.  Because based on the figures provided by the Bureau of Immigration, out of the 78,000 (foreign nationals), 30,000 are Chinese,” Tulfo said in an ambush interview after he filed the resolution.

“What’s confusing is that they should not yet be retired, but they are given visas, because the ages (of the applicants) are 35 up to 50 […] The same thing happens with investors’ visas, some applicants do not have millions of investments but they have this visa, but they are just employees of Pogos,” he added.

HR No. 1771 also mentioned the case of suspended Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo, who was grilled at the Senate due to confusing details about her citizenship.

Guo’s citizenship was questioned after it was revealed that she availed of a late birth registration, with some senators speculating that Guo’s parents are both Chinese nationals.

Senator Risa Hontiveros even considered the possibility that the parents stated by Guo do not exist.

According to Tulfo, they would also ask that Guo attend the hearing on HR No. 1771, once session resumes and after the House committee on rules schedules the discussions.


“Also, the late registration of birth certificates, maybe you saw that issue about a mayor who availed of late registration.  So all of these, we in Congress are confused as to why these persisted.  So the Speaker (Ferdinand Martin Romualdez) called me up yesterday and he told me if I can file a resolution to investigate,” Tulfo said.

“Definitely,” he added, when asked if Guo will be summoned by the House.  “We need to know how she was able to do that, because we do not know details about her parents, how it happened, in local language it seems she came from a bamboo but she has a birth certificate and a passport,” he added.

The Philippines has seen an influx of Chinese nationals, after several Pogo sites were raided and revealed foreigners — mostly from China — working for the gaming operations.  Last June 4, authorities rescued 158 foreigners and 29 Filipinos working at a “rouge” Pogo in a multi-use estate in Porac, Pampanga.

On March 13, 2024, 371 Filipinos and 497 foreigners were rescued in the Pogo site in Bamban — which eventually led to an investigation on Guo’s alleged ties to the Pogo company operating in the municipality

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There have been calls to ban Pogos in the country, with several lawmakers saying that the revenues earned from taxes levied on the games are being outweighed by social costs.  Last June 11, the Makabayan bloc filed a bill seeking to revoke licenses given to Pogos, in response to the alleged proliferation of illegal activities connected to the games.

TAGS: China, House of Representatives

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