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Duterte signs ‘Balik Scientist Act

By GENALYN KABILING, Manila Bulletin

A NEW law institutionalizing the “Balik Scientist Program” has been signed by President Duterte to advance the country’s research and development.

Republic Act No. 11035 or the “Balik Scientist Act” provides incentives, benefits, and privileges to Filipino scientists, engineers, and innovators who will return to the country to share their knowledge.

Under the law, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been tasked to approve and award the short-term, medium-term or long-term engagements of returning scientists in coordination with the host institution as well as facilitate the release of their benefits.

The returning science, technology or innovation expert or professional will undertake activities such as mentorship, training, lecture, research and development, during their stay in the country.

“The Program aims to strengthen the scientific and technological human resources of the academe, public and private institutions including locally registered enterprises in order to promote knowledge sharing and accelerate the flow of new technology in the country,” the law read.

In return, the scientists can enjoy benefits and incentives such as exemption from licensing or permitting requirements of the Professional Regulation Commission; accident and medical insurance; exemption from renouncing their oath of alliance to the country where they took the oath; tax and duty exemption in the donation of equipment and materials to the DOST; tax and duty exemption in the importation of professional equipment and other materials; reimbursement of expenses for excess baggage allowance.

They can also participate in Grants-in-Aid (GIA) research and development projects of the DOST.

The benefits also include one round-trip airfare originating from a foreign country to the Philippines, DOST-subsidized visa applications, and tax exempt daily allowance.

Long-term returning scientists could also get special relocation benefits such as special non-immigrant visas; tax and duty exemption of one vehicle, personal and housing effects, and professional equipment; admission assistance to schools for minor children of awardees; assistance in securing jobs for the spouse; monthly housing allowance; funding for establishment and development of facility or laboratory.

In implementing the Balik Scientist Program, the DOST has also been directed to prioritize areas such as space technology, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering, energy, agriculture and food, biotechnology, information and communications technology, pharmaceutical, nanotechnology, cyber security, and disaster mitigation and management.

The DOST may also organize annual convention of the Filipino scientists to highlight successes of explorations and research.

The returning scientists will also be required to submit accomplishment reports after serving their term.| MB

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