Barbers Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers

Barbers: SIRV Program being used as “ticket” by foreign criminal elements

June 20, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 99 views

A LAWMAKER from Mindanao called on his colleagues in Congress to amend and upgrade the antiquated Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) program which is now being used as a “ticket” by some foreign drug syndicates, money launderers and other criminal elements to set up their base of operations in the Philippines.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the country’s SIRV program being implemented by the Board of Investments (BOI) is being taken advantage of by unscrupulous foreign individuals making the country a haven in the furtherance of their illegal activities.

He said that pursuant to Book V of the Omnibus Investment Code (Executive Order No. 226, as amended), the SIRV program requires investors to remit at least US$75,000 into the country and invest in viable economic activities.

“Sa halagang P4.8 million (P58.51 to US$1), ang isang member ng isang criminal syndicate ay maaari nang pumasok, manatili at gawin ang kanilang illegal na gawain sa ating bansa gamit ang SIRV program as cover,” Barbers said.

“At sa mga banyaga, particular na ang mga Chinese drug syndicates at money launderers, ang halaga na P4.8 million ay barya na lang sa kasalukuyang panahon kumpara sa kikitain nila sa kanilang illegal na gawain,” he added. Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said the SIRV program is currently conveniently being used by many Chinese nationals now manning retail stores in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, selling smuggled cheap goods from China.

“Ito ang mga reklamong nakarating sa atin mula sa mga kababayan nating Filipino-Chinese o Tsinoy na engaged sa local retail businesses. Kundi lugi ay nagsarado na ang marami sa kanila. Hindi na maituturing na investors ang mga Chinese nationals na ito. Dahil nag-dagsaan na sila, mga Tsinoy na ang kanilang ka-kumpetensya sa retail trade,” he said.

Based on latest reports, the SIRV program was also the “ticket” allegedly used by Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo and her parents to enter the country in January 2003 when she was 13 years old.

Based on BOI’s and Bureau of Immigration documents, the real name of Alice Guo was Guo Hua Ping and was born on August 31, 1990. Her mother was identified as Lin Wenyi based on the SIRV application her family submitted to the BOI.

The Lower House is currently investigating the influx of Chinese nationals working in illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) firms; involvement in drugs smuggling; acquiring Filipino citizenship using spurious documents; money laundering, fraud, kidnap-for-ransom, and other criminal activities.

One of these Chinese nationals, Barbers said, was identified as Willie Ong who is believed as brains behind the importation of 530 kilos of shabu worth P3.6 billion stashed in his warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga in September last year.

Ong, who possesses forged Filipino passports and other documents, together with his Chinese cohorts, established the Empire 999 real estate firm, has anomalously been able to buy 320 titled lots in various parts of Central Luzon and Metro Manila.

The government, through the Office of the Solicitor General and the Land Registration Authority, are out to conduct forfeiture proceedings against Ong’s acquired real estate properties worth several billion pesos.