Sunday, April 21, 2024

Bill granting more benefits to S&T personnel gets House nod

Science and technology (S&T) practitioners in the country may soon avail of honoraria for services rendered beyond the regular workload and may also have the option to extend their compulsory retirement for completion of pending priority research projects of the government.

These are among the additional benefits that may soon be enjoyed by S&T practitioners such as scientists, researchers, engineers, and other S&T personnel in the government, under House Bill 8734.

The House of Representatives unanimously approved the bill with 206 votes.

House Bill 8734, titled ?Increasing the Benefits Granted to S&T Personnel of the Government, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 8439,” is principally authored by representatives Alfred Vargas III (6th district, Quezon City), Michael Romero and Enrico Pineda of 1-Pacman party-list, and Luis Raymund Villafuerte (2nd district, Camarines Sur).

Republic Act 8439 is also known as the ?Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers, and other S&T Personnel in the Government.?

The bill aims to empower Filipino scientists, expand the country?s pool of S&T experts, and motivate them to continue working for the government.

It seeks to amend Section 7 of RA 8439, entitled ?Other Benefits?, so that despite laws and issuances on the Compensation and Position Classification System and Salary Standardization in the Government, S&T personnel defined in Section 5 of RA 8439 shall be entitled to honorarium.

Such honorarium shall be granted to S&T personnel who rendered services beyond the established regular workload subject to the rules set by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

These S&T personnel include scientists, technologists, researchers, and technicians whose broad and superior knowledge and expertise on professional standing in an expertise in a specific field contributes to productivity and innovativeness.

The bill mandates the government not to limit the amount of additional honoraria that may be received by the S&T personnel from externally-funded grants.

The bill also seeks to amend Section 8 of RA 8439, entitled ?Non-DOST and DOST Personnel?, so that S&T personnel not employed by the DOST, who are involved in Science and Technological Activities (STA), may avail of the benefits under the law upon certification of the head of agency for which they are conducting research and development or other STA.

The heads of agencies shall abide by the guidelines promulgated by the DOST for the certification of non-DOST personnel involved with research and development or scientific and technological activities and their entitlement to benefits provided in the law.

Moreover, the bill seeks to amend Section 16 of RA 8439, entitled ?Hiring of Retired Scientists And Technical Personnel?, so that the services of a scientist who is due for compulsory retirement may be extended for a maximum period of five years, provided that the research project he is involved in is within the priority research and development programs of the DOST and identified as strategic to national development as certified by the DOST secretary.

The concerned scientist should also be mentally and physically fit to complete the project. The request for extension of service shall be submitted to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for approval at least three months prior to the date of the compulsory retirement of the scientist.

The services rendered during the period of extension shall be credited as part of government service, and such extension shall entitle the employee to leave credits and other benefits.

The authors of the bill shared the view that the measure would be instrumental in keeping the necessary reservoir of talent and manpower that will sustain the country?s drive for total S&T mastery and advancement in the country. — Rowena B. Bundang


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