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PEZA locators account for bulk of special investor visas issued 

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said its locators were issued 17,592 special residency visas between November 2021 and April 2024, accounting for the overwhelming majority of the visas endorsed by investment promotion agencies (IPAs).

Jenny Romero, PEZA legal affairs group manager, said in a radio interview: “The top nationalities that we have issued PEZA visas to are Japanese, Indians, and then South Koreans. Our issuance to Chinese (nationals) is very small — only 1,812.”

On Tuesday, Party-list Rep. Erwin T. Tulfo filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1771, calling for an investigation into the issuance of Special Resident Retiree Visas and the Special Investor Resident Visas (SIRV).

He said that the resolution aims to address reports of excessive issuance of special visas to foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals.

In an online briefing, Ryan Ramos, director of the Incentives Administration Service at the Board of Investments (BoI), said that the BoI endorsed around 3,000 SIRVs since 1988. 

“On average, around 50% of the SIRVs we endorsed from 2020–2024 are for Chinese nationals,” Mr. Ramos said.

The BoI endorsed 18 SIRVs in 2020, 29 in 2021, 42 in 2022, 80 in 2023, and 71 in 2024.

According to Mr. Ramos, to make the issuance of the special visas easier to monitor, the Department of Justice has created a technical working group to address the need to compile data from the various agencies.

“That is still ongoing, and its purpose is really to have a database shared with immigration so that immigration would know how many visas have been issued by each IPA,” he said.

“This will also allow immigration to monitor if the foreign nationals granted special visas are staying in the Philippines or not,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile