By Mary Jane P. Tadili
To entice more Filipino S&T experts who are based abroad, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is rolling out the expanded benefits and incentives provided under its “Balik Scientist” program.
With the newly crafted Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act, which facilitates faster approval and removes some government restrictions on taxes and work engagements of Balik Scientists, the DOST is hopeful that many will answer the call.
Republic Act No. 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act was signed into law on June 15, 2018. The law allows the participation of science, technology or innovation (STI) experts of Filipino descent in research and development initiatives for the country. The law provides bigger and more attractive incentives and benefits to scientists, inventors, and researchers who are based abroad and have distinguished themselves in the fields of S&T.
Under the law, the DOST is mandated to administer the program and to craft its IRR for efficient implementation. The IRR may include a one-time incentive bonus and such additional incentives, benefits, and privileges that may be necessary to attract the individual “Balik Scientist” to come and help in the scientific and technological advancement of the country.
DOST undersecretary for S&T services Carol M. Yorobe said the IRR has been crafted with the end in view to remove some bureaucratic restrictions or limitations in order to facilitate faster approval and accommodation of Balik Scientists in consonance with their term of engagement.
Yorobe said that in the past, because of too many government regulations to be complied with and which took so long to be acted upon, the time specified by the Balik Scientists to come to country lapsed before they can get in the country.
“We wanted to address the faster facilitation of the stay and engagement of our Balik Scientists without them having to go through so many paper works just to help us in our S&T initiatives,” Yorobe added.
The Balik Scientist may apply under the short-term engagement, which have a minimum duration of 15 days to maximum of 6 months, medium-term engagement with 6 months duration as minimum but not to exceed within one year from the date of engagement, and long- term engagement with a duration of more than year to three years, subject to the renewal to be determined by the DOST. A long-term engagement should be approved by the secretary.
The IRR itemized the general benefits and incentives, and privileges of the Balik Scientist as regards to the term of their engagements.
Among these benefits are:
DOST-PCHRD executive director Jaime C. Montoya said that the DOST’s compensation/benefits scheme for the Balik Scientists is not at par to what they are receiving in their country of origin but the program is more of an appeal to them to come back and share their expertise to advance S&T in the country, thus, the tagline of the program “Balik Puso, Balik Pilipinas.”