House ratifies bicam report increasing benefits of scientists in gov’t

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The House of Representatives has approved the bicameral conference committee report reconciling the House and Senate bills both seeking to raise the benefits of science and technology (S&T) personnel in the government.

The reconciled measure seeks to amend Republic Act 8439 or the “Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and Other Science & Technology Personnel in the Government”, empowering Filipino scientists with the end in view of expanding the country’s pool of S&T experts and motivate them to continue working for the country.

The ratified bill states that the government shall not impose a limit on the amount of additional honoraria that may be received by S&T personnel from externally funded grants.

S&T personnel not employed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) but are involved in science and technology activities may also avail of the benefits of the measure upon certification of the head of their agency that they are involved in research and development or other scientific and technological activities.

Moreover, the services of a scientist who is due for compulsory retirement may be extended for a maximum of five years provided that in addition to the possession of mental and physical fitness, the research project that the scientist will undertake is among the priority research and development programs of the DOST.

The authors of the bill stated in the explanatory note of HB 1833, one of the bills eventually consolidated into HB 8734, that the developments in S&T have contributed significantly to the country’s development because they advance the economy and improve health systems, education, and infrastructure.

“In order to develop our country as a budding leader in science and to ensure that we reap the economic fruits of technological innovation, we must empower our Filipino scientists, engineers and other science and technology professionals,” Quezon City representative Alfred Vargas said.

For his part, Camarines Sur representative Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte observed that the lack of support for and unnecessary restrictions to the scientific community has led to many Filipino scientists seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

“Hence, there is an ample need to support scientists, researchers, engineers and the like. The government must incentivize their position within civil service to better the scientific sector in the country,” he said in the explanatory note of HB 6670, which was also consolidated into HB 8734. — Czarina Engracia

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