‘Balik Scientist’ program to encourage experts to return to PH: solon

The newly signed law that institutionalizes the “Balik Scientist” program will encourage Filipino technology experts to return to the Philippines to aid in the country’s development, Sen. Grace Poe said on Wednesday, June 27.

The Balik Scientist program is expected to encourage overseas-based Filipino scientists like Dr. Joey C. Comiso, an emeritus scientist at NASA, to go back the Philippines and share their knowledge. Photo credit: NASA

Poe, one of the authors of the recently signed law, said it is expected that the goal of strengthening research and development in various fields will be achieved to help alleviate poverty and offer more opportunities for Filipinos.

Inaasahan nating ang ating mga kababayang eksperto sa kanilang larangan ay makapagbabahagi ng kanilang kaalaman para sa ikauunlad ng ating bansa. Through this law that offers a wide range of benefits and privileges to our scientists, we hope that various sectors will level up and become more productive,” said Poe.

Poe said the phrase “Filipino scientist” is often accompanied by the words “working abroad” and she expressed hopes that this scenario will be reversed with the passage of the “game-changing social legislation.”

Under Republic Act No. 11305 signed on June 11, eligible scientists, as certified by the Department of Science and Technology, may either be Filipino citizens or foreigners of Filipino descent, who undertake science and technology activities.

The proposed terms of engagement range from 15 days to six months for the short-term engagement; six months to three years for the medium-term engagement; and up to six years for the long-term engagement.

They are entitled to a special non-immigrant visa, free round trip airfare, accident and medical insurance, exemption from licensing requirements of the Professional Regulation Commission and exclusion from taxes on their daily allowance and on donations of instruments related to the scientific project. For the long-term program, grantees will be given relocation benefits and funding for the establishment of a research facility.

“We hope that these highly trained Filipino scientists will help the government and institutions for the continued improvement of policies and programs and in research and development as these are core components of national development,” Poe added.

Presidential Decree No. 819 issued in 1975 established the Balik Scientist Program for a period of five years. In 1980, the program was extended until 1986 through Letter of Instruction No. 1044. In 1993, Executive Order No. 130 was issued that revived the brain gain program and put it under the supervision of the Department of Science and Technology.

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