Bill filed in Senate to institutionalize ?Balik Scientist? program

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A senator has filed a bill seeking to provide overseas Filipino scientist with financial benefits and incentives to encourage to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development.

Sen. Bam Aquino
Sen. Bam Aquino

“Although numerous Filipino scientists would like to serve their country and contribute to our technological, social, and economic advancement, many opt to move overseas where their work is highly valued, and where there are more opportunities to conduct meaningful research,” said Aquino in Senate Bill No. 1183.

The senator saw the need to entice Filipino scientists working overseas to return to the Philippines after research showed that the country produced fewer research papers and file far fewer patents with 1.8 per million population in 2010, compared to Thailand (17.6), Malaysia (43.4), and Vietnam (3.5).

“Filipino scientists have been contributing to groundbreaking advancement in scientific research all over the world with their talent, intelligence, and creativity. Yet as a country, we are lagging behind our neighbors in scientific output,” explained Aquino.

According to Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, the measure aims to institutionalize the ?Balik Scientist? program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Reinstated in 1993 by virtue of Executive Order No. 130, the DOST’s ?Balik Scientist? program has successfully encouraged some of our scientists to return and contribute to research that will address development gaps in the Philippines.

The ?Balik Scientist? program provides financial incentives for overseas Filipino scientists and facilitates their return to work on either a short-term or long-term basis.

The program subsidizes the cost of returning to the Philippines to impart their technical expertise to the nation, while conducting research to address our country’s needs.

“Institutionalizing this will provide financial benefits to returning overseas scientists, but more importantly, it will signify our government’s commitment to, and recognition of science, research and development,” he added.

Once enacted into law, Aquino said the bill will assure Filipino scientists that their work is valued and that the government is their partner in promoting, and protecting research and development.

“It is not just Filipino scientists that stand to gain from this program, but the Filipino people, as the brightest minds pour their brain power to solving longstanding problems like poverty through science and technology,” he stressed.

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