Turning the Philippines into a retirement haven

Published by rudy Date posted on February 15, 2009

Gen. Edgar Aglipay hasn’t lost the bearing of a police general—he’s ramrod-straight and has the demeanor of an officer and a gentleman. The former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Aglipay is now on his fourth year as chairman of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA). “The PRA,” he explains, “is a government-owned and -controlled corporation whose goal is to attract foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to invest and retire in the Philippines.” Though the PRA rarely hugs the limelight, its role may prove pivotal in resuscitating the Philippine economy.

Like a duck to water

By words and examples, Aglipay refutes the common misconception that former police and military officers are unqualified to occupy civilian posts in the government. He revealed that he did not encounter any transition difficulty from being PNP chief to PRA chairman, pointing out that the police institution after all is also a civilian institution. “I didn’t experience any difficulty adjusting and I believe it’s just not me but other former police and military officials that are now occupying civilian posts in the government.”

Aglipay elaborates that the preparation for higher position in the police and the military is no different than those offered in the private sector. “I was fortunate enough that during my time with the PNP, they sent me to the University of the Philippines to get my Master’s Degree in Business Management. So I got my MBA from UP. I then went on later to the College of Law to finish my law studies,” he narrates.

Aglipay commends the holistic approach of the government in grooming its current breed of police officers, “These men are being prepared to serve the public. They are being prepared to deal with foreign investors and foreign visitors as they go up the ladder of the organization. I think our government is really doing everything so that wherever they are; they are capable to deliver the services expected from them be it in the military, the private sector or in the government.”

A haven and a home

Simply stated, the goal of the PRA is to make the Philippines the preferred destination of retirees from all over the world with the end view of boosting the economy through the increase of the foreign currency reserve. Being a hands-on leader, Aglipay believes that the best way to do this is to constantly meet with foreign retirees and find out directly from them what qualities they are looking for in a retirement destination. A good case in point is his personal meetings with officers and members numerous retirees associations in the United States and Canada last year. The meetings yielded investments on retirement-related businesses in the Philippines.

Aglipay emphasizes that high level of standards must be maintained for the country to attarct foreign retirees to settle here and invest their money. Pertaining to businesses wanting to engage in such an endeavor, he relates, “I see to it that all those providing retirement facilities should follow a set of standards. If you are in the housing industry, there are already standards set by the private sector. For example: wide alleys, landscaped floors, and well-lit rooms. All these features were created with the elderly in mind.”

Simplicity and opportunities

Aglipay is seriously implementing the simplification and consolidation of fees that also used to be the headache of foreign retirees in the country. “Before, they had to pay separately for the ID fee, application fee, visitorial fee and a lot more. We are now wrapping this up into one simple process,” he declares. In line with this move is the initiative called Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV). The SRRV is a non-immigrant multiple-entry visa issued by the Bureau of Immigration in coordination with the PRA to foreigners and former Filipino citizens. A bearer of an SRRV is entitled to multiple-entry privileges with the option to reside permanently in the Philippines.

With the number of global retirees forecasted to hit the 869 million mark by next year, Aglipay believes that the Philippines is capable of exploiting the condition to its advantage. “The improvement of medicine and medical facilities through science is prolonging the life of people. So, in short, the 65-year-old and up population rate will grow faster while the 16-year-old and under will continuously decrease. So our target market is becoming bigger,” he said.

Young population advantage

Citing the Philippines and Japan as an example, Aglipay expounds on how the Philippines could put to good use its young population. Says he, “Our population is a very young population whereas the population of other countries especially Japan, has a negative population growth rate. They have more old people than young people. In short, there are less young people taking care of older people. That means we can accept more older people to take care of. Now, instead of us sending our people abroad as care givers, nurses and doctors to take care of these older people, we’ll just wait for them to come here.”

Aglipay hopes that such strategy would generate jobs with respectable wages for many Filipinos so they could stay with their families and no longer have to work abroad. “This is the reason that President Gloria Arroyo is pushing this, because it will create jobs for many people,” he shares.

Now that the global economic crisis is in full swing, Aglipay is exercising all caution to ensure that the PRA is on track in attaining its goals. He is keen on coordinating with and convincing the owners of retirement facilities in the country to provide competitive incentives to draw foreign retirees to the Philippines. “Whether they come to the golf course or the barbershop, we must give them more mileage for their money so they would be enticed to stay with us,” Aglipay admonishes. The hardworking chairman is also applying the same scheme to the health care facilities catering to retirees. “Our hospitals should be competitive not only in terms of affordability but also in terms of quality of services and facilities.”

Skilled advisers

Foreign retirees contemplating on settling down or investing their money in the Philippines can just contact the PRA directly. Besides frequent conventions it conducts with retiree organizations, the PRA has information centers in various strategic locations like airports. It has several satellite offices in Baguio, Olongapo, Cebu and Davao. The PRA has a contingent of skilled advisers that can explain to interested parties what best options are available for them.

Based on PRA records, the biggest number of foreign retirees in the Philippines so far are mainland Chinese followed by Koreans. Closely behind are American and Japanese retirees. Their choices of retirement locations are diverse, encompassing the northern, central and southern parts of the country.

Aglipay observes that the kindness and hospitality of our people are the factors that make the Philippines attractive to foreign retirees. Recalling a recent experience, he narrates, “I met some Japanese yesterday and they were here to do a survey. They came from big corporations. I think there were 10 of them. They want to evaluate our retirement facilities and infrastructure.” Through their conversation, Aglipay discovered an interesting revelation; “Their apprehension was that, they are not welcome here because Japan conquered the Philippines during World War 2. But, they found out that it’s the other way around. They are most welcome,” he relates, adding, “You know, when you are a retiree looking for a retirement haven, the first consideration is that you are accepted by the locals.”

Like most Filipinos, hospitality too pulsates in Aglipay’s heart. So long as the environment is protected and the country’s infrastructure maintained, it is his dear wish that the beauty of the Philippines be enjoyed not only by his countrymen but also by the rest of humanity.

Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) pertinent facts

Benefits

1Option to reside permanently: May live, retire and invest in the Philippines;

2Multiple-entry privileges: May travel outside the Philippines, and re-enter anytime;

3Exemptions: Exit clearance and re-entry permits from the Bureau of Immigration. Annual registration requirement of the Bureau of Immigration; Customs duties and taxes for the importation of personal effects and household goods up to $7,000; Travel tax, if stay in the Philippines is less than one year from the last entry date; Special study permit.

4Assistance in securing/obtaining documents from other government agencies, such as alien employment permit from DOLE; driver’s license from LTO; clearance from NBI tax exemption/extension certificate from DOF; tax identification number from BIR.

5Tax-free remittances of annuities and pensions;

6Guaranteed repatriation of the requisite dollar time deposit.

Basic requirements

1. Passport with valid Entry;

2. Application Form;

3. Medical Clearance;

4. Police/NBI Clearance;

5. Requisite Deposit of $50,000, $20,000, $10,000, or $1,500;

6. Processing/servicing Fee of $1,400.

For details, visit The Philippines Retirement Authority, 29/f Citibank Tower, 8741 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City, call 848-1412, e-mail inquiry@pra.gov.ph or log-on to www.pra.gov.ph.

Philippine Retirement Authority

The Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) is a government owned and controlled corporation created by virtue of Executive Order 1037, signed by then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos, on July 4, 1985. On August 31, 2001, through Executive Order 26, the control and supervision of PRA was transferred to the Board of Investment from the Office of the President.

PRA is mandated to attract foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to invest, reside and retire in the Philippines with the end in view of accelerating the socioeconomic development of the country, contributing to the foreign currency reserve of the economy and by providing them the best quality of life in the most attractive package. –Perry Gil S. Mallari, Manila Times

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