Sen. Grace Poe has filed a bill that seeks to institutionalize a “brain gain” program for science and technology workers and encourage them to return to the Philippines and contribute their knowledge for the betterment of the country.
Poe recently filed Senate Bill No. 1324 or the proposed Balik Scientist Act that aims to offer benefits, incentives and privileges to returning Filipino experts and professionals who share their technical and technological know-how to spur scientific and technological advancements and strengthen the country’s potential for growth.
“This bill envisions a future in which Filipino scientists contribute to nation-building and inclusive growth through the acceleration of research and development in the country,” said Poe.
Under Poe’s bill, Balik Scientists shall be engaged for short-term, medium-term or long-term programs to be administered by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
For the short-term program with a duration of at least 30 days, benefits include round-trip airfare, reimbursement of excess baggage costs, relocation and tax-exempt daily allowance, participation in grants-in-aid research and development projects, and donation of instruments and materials related to the scientific activities.
“Nakatatak sa puso ng bawat Pilipino, saan man sila mapadpad at gaano man kalayo ang kanilang marating sa buhay, na mapaglingkuran ang bayan. Naniniwala tayong ang ating mga kababayang eksperto sa siyensya at teknolohiya ay malaki ang maitutulong sa pagtataguyod ng pantay na oportunidad sa bansa,” Poe said.
Apart from the benefits extended to short-term beneficiaries of the program, medium-term engagement which has a duration of six to 12 months shall also entitle experts to exemption from payment of travel tax including their immediate family and exemption from submission of Immigration clearance certificate and payment of multiple-entry fees.
For the long-term award which has a duration of 24 to 36 months, benefits include housing provision, reimbursement of expenses for the shipment of personal effects and professional instruments including one motor vehicle, exemption from securing an alien employment permit, budget to put up a laboratory, in addition to standard benefits extended to short- and medium-term programs.
Poe, citing data from the DoST, said “brain drain” or outbound science and technology workers in the Philippines have increased 148 percent from 9,877 in 1998 to 24,502 in 2009.
As such, the presence of research and development personnel in the Philippines stands at 165 per million Filipinos, way below the Unesco recommendation of 380 per million persons.
“Ang husay at galing ng Pilipino ay ating ikintal at pag-ibayuhin tungo sa tagumpay ng ating mga mamamayang nagnanais ng mas mabuting buhay at mas maunlad na bansa,” Poe stressed.