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Malacañang signs ‘Balik Scientist’ bill into law

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law the Balik Scientist Act, which offers incentives for eligible technology workers seeking to work in the Philippines.

The law goes into the books as Republic Act 11305, will institutionalize incentives to encourage Filipino experts in the fields of science and technology to practice in the country.

This law is a big help in motivating Pinoy scientists to return and assist in developing the country and the lives of Filipinos,” Senator Benigno A. Aquino IV said in a statement. Mr. Aquino is he principal author of the legislation.

According to the Senator, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, the Philippines has 189 scientists per million, well behind the levels in advanced countries.

“South Korea and United States have 5,300 and 3,500 scientists per million, respectively. Malaysia, for its part, has 2,000 scientists per million,” Mr. Aquino said.

The law defines eligible scientists, who are certified by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), as Filipino citizens or foreigners of Filipino descent, undertaking science and technology activities under a short-, medium- or long-term engagement.

Professionals seeking to be included in the program can either be residents of another country or residing in the Philippines for not more than three years at the time of application.

Benefits include such as accident and medical insurance as well as exemption from permitting or licensing requirements of the Professional Regulation Commission. They will also be exempt from paying taxes on the importation of equipment, instruments and materials.

The DoST, which is designated to administer the law, may also draw up other benefits and privileges in the implementing rules and in accordance with other existing laws.

In return, Balik Scientist awardees will assume professional or technical roles in the DoST Research and Development Leadership Programs. They can also participate in Grants-in-Aid research and development programs of the DoST subject to its guidelines. — Charmaine A. Tadalan