All the privileges are given

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 26, 2020 - 12:00am

More than the population of Quezon City. This is said to be the number of Chinese who have entered the country since 2017. According to information from the Bureau of Immigration itself, almost four million mainland Chinese nationals have entered the country since 2017. Of that number, 3.8 million were non-VUA (Visa Upon Arrival) while those qualified for VUA were at 150,000. With a VUA, a foreigner can travel and stay in the country for 30 days without a visa. These were brought up at the resumption of Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ expose of the "pastillas scheme" by some Bureau of Immigration personnel. Those involved in the scheme allegedly receive up to P10,000 per Chinese individual to enter the country without any problems or documentation. The NBI will file cases against 40 individuals involved in the scheme.

That is not all. It turns out foreigners are allowed to retire in the country at the age of only 35 years. Senator Gordon could not hide his ire over the practice. Gordon added 35 years old is military age. That says a lot considering China only treats us as a friend for as long as we don't claim anything in the South China Sea. The Philippine Retirement Agency (PRA) General Manager Bienvenido Chy defended that this policy has been around for a long time, as if to say he merely continued it. He adds in South Korea, soldiers can retire at the age of 35 so the policy is in place to entice them to retire in the country. If a foreigner has $50,000 in cash, he is eligible to retire here.

But the question is how many Chinese have retired in the country before and after 2017? POGO operations have been ongoing since this administration came into power. Illegal Chinese entries via the "pastillas scheme" may be working in POGOs to forego the usual processes. What is P10,000 to a POGO operator?

DOT Sec. Puyat has asked the PRA to repeal the policy. It makes no sense. We have professionals who are still working hard at the age of 35. It is hard to believe a 35-year-old can retire unless the heir of a business empire. The administration is giving all the privileges available to the Chinese. What happens now when most industries have been hit by the pandemic? A POGO in Subic will reportedly close because of its losses. One thousand mainland Chinese will be forced to return to China. I wonder how many among them are retirees? I also wonder how many among them availed of the "pastillas scheme"? For as long as the Filipinos involved in the scheme are charged, these Chinese are welcome to go back home.

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