MANILA, Philippines — South Koreans are very welcome in the country as tourists but not as retailers, the Bureau of Immigration said Monday as it ordered a crackdown on foreigners illegally doing business in the country.
Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said foreigners, most of them Korean, had been “blatantly” violating the country’s immigration laws by operating retail stores and using Filipinos to front for them.
Only Filipino citizens may ply the retail trade, Libanan said in a statement.
“A foreigner who engages in the retail trade is liable for deportation as the act is a violation of the conditions of his admission and stay in the country,” he said.
Libanan also appealed to local government officials throughout the country not to issue licenses and permits to foreign-owned retail businesses in their areas.
The bureau will coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry in going after the illegal foreign traders, Libanan said.
The BI’s campaign against alien retailers is expected to be initially tested in Baguio City as the local government there announced it had formed a task force with BI and DTI officials to go after Korean-owned establishments in the city.
Similar Korean-owned establishments have been reported in Manila, Pasay and Makati cities, Libanan said.
Koreans are among the top three tourist groups that come to the country.
Republic Act No. 8762, or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000, opened the retail trade to foreigners. The law introduced three categories where a foreigner may partly or wholly own a retail business worth between $2.5 million and $7.5 million.
The restrictions of the law, however, do not apply to businesses with a capital of P100,000 or less, restaurants that are operated by hotel owners or innkeepers irrespective of the amount of capital, as well as the sale of farm products and other goods produced, manufactured, processed or assembled in a single outlet. Jerome Aning