The Department of Tourism (DoT) has ordered the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to suspend the issuance of Special Retirement Residence Visas (SRRV) pending the review and amendments of the policies on age and visa deposit requirements.

Senators earlier questioned the PRA for allowing foreigners as young as 35 years old to reside in the country as retirees, saying that it is a form of “soft invasion.”

During the PRA Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, the agency was directed by the DoT to review its policies on age bracket, dollar deposit requirements, and the conversion of these deposits into allowable investments.

According to the DoT, the acceptance and processing of applications to join the SRRV program and issuance of SRRV will remain suspended pending the PRA’s compliance with the above-cited directives.

The PRA was also directed to implement an enhanced program to regularly monitor the profile and activities of active SRRV holders in coordination with other government agencies, such as the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The PRA was likewise ordered to coordinate with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) for the formulation and review of its marketing and product development plans, and its retirement programs with other countries.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker on Friday said the surge in the entry of Chinese and other foreign nationals into the Philippines will boost the country’s economic growth amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“With all due respect to the opinion of our esteemed senators in the Upper Chamber of Congress, I believe that the entry of foreign nationals who wish to retire and consider our country as their second home is a welcome development,” Partylist Rep. Enrico A. Pineda said in a statement. “Our country is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic. These retirees from other countries are willing to invest in our country by bringing business here.”

The SRRV program requires those aged 50 years old and above to have a time deposit of $10,000 to $20,000 for its issuance; $50,000, on the other hand, is required for those who are aged 35 to 49.

“On the other hand, I agree with the sentiment of our counterparts in the Senate that the minimum retiree age must be reconsidered and reviewed by the Department of Tourism and the (PRA),” Mr Pineda said, saying that it would be better if the age requirement would be adjusted from 35-14 to 40-49 years old.

“However, we have to be very cautious in the review of our retirement visa policies for us not to be misconstrued to be shooing away retirees. Most of these foreign nationals are investing in their tourist destinations, creating more jobs for the locals and giving income to the government in terms of taxes,” he said. “For as long as they follow proper procedures as required by our laws, they are welcome to retire and invest in our country.”

PRA officials earlier revealed at a budget hearing at the Senate that there are currently 27,678 Chinese retirees in the Philippines. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza