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PRA (Philippines Retirement Authority) told to scrap retirement age requirement

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PRA (Philippines Retirement Authority) told to scrap retirement age requirement

MANILA, Phlippines — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has ordered the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), an agency under the Department of Tourism (DOT), to junk its current policy of allowing foreign nationals as young as 35 years old to “retire” in the Philippines. “I have directed general manager (Bienvenido) Chy of the PRA to review and change this long-standing policy. We will move for its immediate repeal,” Puyat said in a text message to reporters on Wednesday.

No assurances

Puyat issued the order after senators expressed alarm that the PRA allowed the entry of almost 28,000 Chinese tourists as retirees, saying this poses a security threat to the Philippines. Chy said during the Senate hearing on the DOT’s budget that it has been the PRA’S standing policy that foreigners not younger than 35 years old may avail of the agency’s offered privileges if the retirees have at least $50,000 (about P2.5 million) cash on hand.

Even in China, the state-owned China Daily reported on its website, that the average retirement age was at 57 and the government was studying the possibility of raising the retirement age because China is one of the fastest-aging societies in the world. During the Senate hearing, Sen. Richard Gordon fumed after learning of the PRA’s retirement age requirement and scolded Chy for being unable to assure senators that the Chinese who have been granted PRA privileges were actually retired and were not working in the country. “It upsets me that anybody can just come here, that 35-year-olds would be allowed to ‘retire’ here,” Gordon told Chy and other PRA officials.

No monitoring?

Chy explained that the PRA set the age at 35 years because Korean soldiers could require at that age and they were the targets of the policy. “This has been the practice when I came in, this has been passed upon the Board of Trustees, and just a continuing program,” he added. But Senator Nancy Binay was also concerned that the PRA were not even monitoring those granted retirement privileges. “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 asked.

Top foreign retirees

According to PRA data, the top foreign retirees staying in the Philippines are mainland Chinese, with 27,678 followed by Koreans with 14,144. Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, also noted that in 2019, the Department of Labor and Employment apprehended 6,678 illegal workers who initially came to the Philippines with tourist visas “then afterward they have been working illegally.” Villanueva previously conducted several Senate hearings on the influx of illegal foreign workers in the Philippines.

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