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Philippines enacted law that would give more incentives to returning Filipino scientists and experts

Philippines enacted law that would give more incentives to returning Filipino scientists and experts

According to the report
made by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the newly-enacted
Balik Scientist Law would provide benefits and grants that would entice
Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and engineers to return to the
Philippines so that they can share their knowledge in the country.

Another milestone has been reached by both
science and technology in the Philippines with the Balik Scientist Law.
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa A. Duterte signed Republic
Act No. 11035
or the “Act Institutionalising the Balik Scientist
Program” on 15 June 2018.

This law would give more incentives to returning
Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and engineers who would share their
expertise in the country.

The enacted law would strengthen the
implementation of the DOST’s “Balik Scientist Program”. This program was first
established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 819 but was only
implemented in 1986.

Since its implementation, several
scientists have come back to the country, either on a short-term or long-term
basis in order to mentor science and engineering students and faculty along
their line of expertise.

They have done this through research and
development, teaching, and other activities. This sharing of expertise
significantly contributed to the acceleration of the scientific,
agro-industrial and economic development of the Philippines.

A returning scientist can participate in
DOST’s Grants-in-Aid research and development made possible by the Balik
Scientist Law. A grant may be provided to the Balik (returning) Scientist and
will be released through the institution that will be hosting the
implementation of the project.

Various compensations can also be enjoyed
by Balik Scientists. They can have tax and duty exemptions on the importation
of professional equipment and materials. They will also receive free medical
and accident insurance benefits, which would cover the award period.

Returning scientists can also avail
reimbursement of expenses for baggage related to scientific project. Moreover,
they can also be exempted from renouncing the oath of allegiance to the country
where they took that oath.

They will also be granted special working
and non-working visas, a round-trip airfare from a foreign country to the
Philippines, an exemption from local travel tax, and DOST-subsidised visa
application.

For long-term Balik Scientist awardees, they
can enjoy relocation benefits. This includes support in securing job
opportunities for their spouses, as well as admission support for their
children in their preferred schools.

They would also be given a relocation
allowance and monthly housing or accommodation allowance. Funding will also be
provided for the establishment and development of a facility or laboratory.

The principal sponsor and author of the
bill, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said, “This law is a big help in
encouraging Filipino scientists to return to the country and contribute to
improve the nation and people’s lives.”

He added, “This law addresses the problem
on the low number of scientists in the country so we can fare better with our
neighbouring countries in Asia who have more people working in research and
development.”

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said
that is very crucial to strengthen the DOST Balik Scientist Program because the
Philippines has areas that lack experts such as space technology and artificial
intelligence which are just starting. He believes that having enough human
resource in these fields would help the country in conducting various research
and development projects in these areas.

The bill also states that the Balik
Scientist Program will give priority to experts in the fields of space,
technology, artificial intelligence (AI), biomedical engineering, energy,
agriculture, food technology, biotechnology, information and communications
technology (ICT), pharmaceutical, disaster mitigation and management,
environment and natural resources, electronics, genomics, health,
manufacturing, nanotechnology, cyber security, and semiconductors.

The law also requires DOST to ensure that
the results of scientific and technological activities are properly applied and
used.

The counterparts of Sen Aquino in the House of
Representatives in sponsoring this bill are Zamboanga del Norte 1st District
Representative Seth Frederick R. Jalosjos, Zamboanga del Sur 1st District
Representative Divina Grace C. Yu, and Bohol 2nd District Representative and Chair
of the Science and Technology Committee Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado.

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