More Balik Scientists

WITH the signing of the Balik Scientist Law, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is expecting an increase in the number of Filipino scientists to come home to the Philippines.

On June 15 of this year, President Rodrigo Duterte finally signed Republic Act 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act that will provide incentives and assistance to Filipino scientists, inventors, and engineers abroad returning to the Philippines.

According to the official website of DOST, this law covers different compensations such as tax and duty exemptions when importing professional equipment and materials, free medical and accident insurance within the award period, reimbursement of expenses for scientific project-related baggage, exemption from “renouncing their oath of allegiance to the country where they took the oath,” special working and non-working visas with application subsidized by DOST, and round-trip airfare from a foreign country to the Philippines while being exempted from local travel tax.

These Balik Scientist program grantees are also expected to participate in the DOST’s Grants-in-Aid research and development.

During the press conference at the National Science and Technology Week at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier last Friday, July 6, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said Balik Scientist program had been going on for about 40 years but had only now been signed into law.

“The number of Balik Scientist since then has remained few because of maybe many bureaucratic processes they have to go through and also some limitations in terms of the incentives and hostings that we have. In fact, after this year, we are only expecting 40 Balik Scientists coming this year. We are only at the middle of the year and we hope to reach that target. With the signing of the Balik Scientist law, we are expecting a significant increase in the number of who will be coming over. I have set a target of 50 percent increase every year at least for the next three years,” said dela Peña.

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