Duterte enacts Balik Scientist law

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act which institutionalized the Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) encouraging Filipino scientists to return and contribute to research that will help address development gaps in the Philippines.

According to DOST, under the new law a returning scientist can enjoy various compensations that include: tax and duty exemptions to importation of professional equipment and materials, free medical and accident insurance covering the award period, reimbursement of expenses for baggage related to scientific projects, and even exemption from “renouncing their oath of allegiance to the country where they took the oath.”

Senator Bam Aquino welcomed the passage of the said law. Aquino pushed for the passage of the law in Senate as principal sponsor and principal author.

“Malaking tulong ang batas na ito upang mahikayat ang mga Pinoy scientists na bumalik sa bansa at tumulong sa pagpapaunlad sa bayan at sa buhay ng mga Pilipino,” said Senator Aquino who is chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

“Matutugunan din ng batas na ito ang kakulangan ng bansa sa scientists, upang makasabay na tayo sa ating mga kapitbahay sa Asya na mas marami ang nagtatrabaho sa research and development,” he added.

During the committee hearing, it was discovered that the country has 189 scientists per million, far from the ideal ratio of 380 scientists per million.

Currently, the Philippines trails South Korea and United States, which have 5,300 and 3,500 scientists per million, respectively. Malaysia, for its part, has 2,000 scientists per million.

Aquino is also the principal sponsor and co-author of the Amendments to the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, and Researchers bill and the Innovative Start-up Act, which is currently being tackled in the plenary.

Sources: http://senate.gov.ph/press_release/2018/0621_aquino2.asp; http://www.dost.gov.ph/knowledge-resources/news/49-2018/1372-balik-scientist-act-approved-in-bicam-final-reading-pres-duterte-expected-to-sign-it-into-law-senator-aquino-says-2