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Duterte signs Balik Scientist law The Balik Scientist program under the DOST was first

established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 819

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte signed under the administration of former president Ferdinand
into law a measure providing incentives and assistance to Marcos. But it was only implemented until 1986.
returning Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and
engineers. PH lacks 19,000 scientists in research and dev't – Bam
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11035 or the Balik
Scientist Act, after the Senate and the House of MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines needs 19,000
Representatives ratified the final version in March. more scientists to be a significant force in research and
development, Senator Paulo Benigno "Bam" Aquino said
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, principal sponsor and on Saturday, May 13.
author of the measure, welcomed the passage of the law,
saying it would also address the country's lack of scientists. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (Unesco) suggests a ratio of 380 scientists per
"Matutugunan din ng batas na ito ang kakulangan ng bansa every million population.
sa scientists, upang makasabay na tayo sa ating mga
kapitbahay sa Asya na mas marami ang nagtatrabaho sa During a hearing on Senate Bill No. 175 or "Balik Scientist
research and development," Aquino said in a statement on Bill", it was discovered that the country only has 189
Thursday, June 21. scientists per million, far from the ideal figure. There are
about 110 million Filipinos based on the latest census.
(This law will address the lack of scientists in the country, (READ: Can the Philippines produce its own Einsteins?)
so we can catch up with our Asian neighbors, which has
more people working for research and development.) “Paano tayo makakasabay sa ibang bansa pagdating sa
research at development kung kulang tayo ng 19,000
During the Senate hearings, it was discovered that the scientists?” asked Aquino, author of the bill and the current
country has only 189 scientists per million, when the ideal chair of the Senate committee on science and technology.
ratio is 380 scientists per million. (How do we keep up with other countries in terms of
research and development if we lack 19,000 scientists?)
Aquino pointed out that the Philippines trails South Korea
and the United States, which have 5,300 and 3,500 The Balik Scientist Bill seeks to institutionalize the
scientists per million, respectively. Malaysia, for its part, program of the Department of Science and Technology.
has 2,000 scientists per million. (READ: 5 things to make
PH a better place for scientists) The program provides overseas Filipino scientists with
financial benefits and incentives to encourage them to
Key provisions return and contribute to research that will address
development gaps in the country.
Under the law, the Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) will be the main implementing agency. “Sa tulong ng panukalang ito, mahihikayat natin ang mga
Filipino scientist sa ibang bansa na bumalik sa Pilipinas at
According to the DOST, a returning scientist can enjoy tumulong sa pagpapaunlad ng ating research and
various forms of compensation, such as: development,” Aquino said. (With the help of this measure,
we can encourage Filipino scientists abroad to return to the
 tax and duty exemptions in the importation of Philippines and help boost research and development.)
professional equipment and materials
 free medical and accident insurance covering the The Balik Scientist program is among the priority measures
award period of the Senate committee on science and technology.
 reimbursement of expenses for baggage related to
scientific projects Data from the Senate committe shows that the country
 exemption from "renouncing their oath of pales in comparison with other countries in terms of the
allegiance to the country where they took the oath" number of scientists in the government and private sector.
 participation in the DOST's Grants-in-Aid research
and development According to the committee, South Korea and the US have
 special working and non-working visas and 5,300 and 3,500 scientists per million, respectively. In
DOST-subsidized visa application Southeast Asia, Malaysia has 2,000 scientists per million –
way higher than the Philippines' 189 per million.
 round-trip airfare from a foreign country to the
A 2015 report from UNESCO Institute for Statistics shows
 exemption from local travel tax
that among 157 countries, Israel has the biggest number of
They can also avail of relocation benefits, such as support
scientists per million population at 8,300. In Asia, South
in securing job opportunities for the spouse and in
Korea is tops with 6,900 scientists per million as of 2015.
admitting children into preferred schools, monthly housing
or accommodation allowance, and funding for the
Meanwhile, Singapore and Malaysia each have 6,700 and
establishment and development of a facility or laboratory.
2,100, respectively. They are the top two countries in
Southeast Asia with scientists.
Science and Technology Assistant Secretary Teodoro
Gatchalian earlier said that the current funding for the Balik
Scientist program would increase significantly with the
law's passage. The DOST had a budget of P25 million for
the program in 2017. (READ: Making policy decisions on
the Philippine scientific enterprise system)