SEVERAL Philippine senators continue to raise concerns over the arrival of almost 28,000 Chinese nationals in the country as retirees, saying this may pose national security threats.
The Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), an agency under the Department of Tourism (DOT), will reassess its current policy that allows foreigners as young as 35 years old to retire in the country.
“The Philippine Retirement Authority Board of Trustees will meet to re-assess the policy of allowing retirees at the age of 35,” Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday, October 21.
The statement came after senators raised concerns over the agency allowing Chinese nationals to enter the Philippines as “retirees,” stressing that it could be considered as a threat to national security.
Based on PRA records, Chinese nationals comprise the most number of foreign retirees in the country at 27,678. They are followed by Koreans (14,144), Indians (6,120), Taiwanese (4,851), Japanese (4,016), and Americans (3,704).
“The reason for 35 years of age is that, in Korea, the retiree will retire in the age of 35. And these are retirees who would come for, who would avail of this program,” PRA General Manager Bienvenido Chy said during the Senate committee hearing of the DOT’s proposed 2021 budget.
“This has been the practice, this has been passed upon by the Board of Trustees and we are just continuing the program,” he added.
Senator Nancy Binay expressed concern over PRA’s relaxed policy, saying the agency is not monitoring those granted with retirement privileges.
“If their demographics is 35 years old and above, then the probability of them working is very high,” she said in Filipino.
”I don’t know if you are monitoring them; are you sure they are not working here in the Philippines and all are retired?” she added.
Senator Joel Villanueva echoed Binay’s sentiment, stressing that the Chinese nationals could be working in Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGOs).
Senator Richard Gordon, meanwhile, said this policy was “dangerous.”
“That, to me, is dangerous. I’m disturbed by it,” he said.
“We won’t just monitor it. We’re gonna correct it. Because 35 is just too young. Not to cast aspersions upon our neighbor, but would they allow us to retire at 35 there? I don’t think they would even allow us to retire in China,” he continued later.
Chy, for his part, maintained that the Chinese nationals retiring in the country are not involved with POGO.
“The POGO you’re referring to, the age requirement there starts at 20. The 35 years old age that are coming here more or less, they choose the Philippines as a retirement destination,” he said in Filipino.
He also assured that the PRA is careful regarding the entry of possible foreign threats.
“We don’t want to endanger the country. The purpose of PRA is to showcase the Philippines as a retirement destination,” Chy said