THE Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, has recorded close to 40,000 foreign retirees in the Philippines.
The figures came from PRA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Valentino Cabansag, who was in Cebu on Saturday for the launching of Amonsagana, a retirement village in the town of Balamban, west of Cebu province.
Cabansag said the number is aggregate of foreigners who availed themselves of the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SSRV) in PRA for the past 30 years since the office was established.
SRRV is a special non-immigrant visa that entitles foreign nationals to reside in the Philippines indefinitely with multiple entry privileges.
Its Cebu office, which was incorporated seven years ago, has issued 1,802 SRRVs, mostly to Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese nationals. Retirees, PRA clarified, do not necessarily mean the sick or old foreign nationals, but mostly cover those who are 35 years old and above who want to stay in the Philippines either for good or for multiple visits.
This year, PRA Cebu satellite office, which serves the Central Visayas region, is targeting to issue 10 percent of the national target, or around 600 of the 5,583 SRRVs to be issued this year, according to PRA Cebu officer-in-charge Elma A. Corbeta.
Being an SRRV holder grants the foreign national benefits like exemption from paying travel tax, if his or her stay in the Philippines will not be longer than one year from the last entry date. SRRV holders are also exempted from securing the Bureau of Immigration exit clearances, reentry permits and annual registration requirement.
Moreover, they are also free from customs duties and taxes for the importation of personal effects not more than $7,000, but which must be availed within 90 days upon the issuance of the SRRV. The SSRV is offered to foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens 35 years old and above at a deposit fee ranging from $1,500 to $50,000.
Cabansag expressed confidence that more foreign retirees will choose Cebu as a place for retirement, especially with more facilities that can serve this segment.
“As your facilities increase, I’m sure there will be more retirees (to come in Cebu),” Cabansag said. The expansion of the Mactan Cebu International Airport will also contribute to this growth, as more direct flights to Cebu are to take place here, the official added.
At present there are four PRA-accredited retirement facilities in Cebu: three condominium projects inside the Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City and the City Lights condominium of Syntech Properties, also the developer of Amonsagana.
Corbeta said there are five Cebu-based projects that are in the process of getting PRA accreditation. These include, the Padgett Place in Lahug, Solinea in Cebu Business Park, Woodland Park Residences in Liloan, Serulyan Seascapes in Lapu-Lapu City, and Amonsagana.
Amonsagana is a 32-hectare property, situated 200 meters above sea level on the Mandayao Hills in Balamban. As a retirement village, it highlights green architectural designs and eco-friendly practices, primarily the inclusion of an edible organic garden for every home. Syntech Properties has poured in P3.8 billion for the project and is set to complete it in the next eight to ten years, according to its director Janice Ngian-Chiong.
PRA-accredited retirement facilities, Corbeta, said will have an advantage over other projects since PRA will help market these projects to foreign retirees.
Furthermore, she said the deposit requirement set by PRA for these foreign nationals, estimated at $1,500 to $50,000, can be used either to purchase a condominium or for long-term lease of an apartment or any residential project.