Duterte signs Balik Scientist bill into law

Duterte signs Balik Scientist bill into law
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the “Balik Scientist” bill into law last June 15.
University of the Philippines / Philippine Genome Center

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure that seeks to provide incentives to Filipino scientists abroad to encourage them to return to the country and share their expertise. 

The president signed the “Balik Scientist” bill into law last June 15. 

The "Balik Scientist" program will be administered by the Department of Science and Technology,  which will also screen applicants who wish to avail of the incentives. 

Scientists, professionals, educators, technicians, researchers, engineers, innovators, technologists and “any person with special skills or expertise” who is a Filipino living abroad or a foreigner of Filipino descent are qualified to join the program. 

Experts under the program must share their expertise with a host institution or a government agency, public or private academic institution, or a locally registered enterprise in the country.

All experts who are qualified to join the program are exempt from the licensing or permitting requirements of the Philippine Regulation Commission. They will also receive accidental and medical insurance awarded by DOST and are entitled to the reimbursement of expenses for excess baggage allowance related to scientific projects.

Filipino scientists will also enjoy tax and duty exemption in the donation and importation of professional equipment and instruments.

DOST will approve and award short-term, medium-term and long-term engagements to the “Balik Scientist” program participant. 

Under the short-term program, which lasts from fifteen days to six months, experts can avail of a round-trip airfare exempt from Philippine travel tax, and a tax-exempt daily allowance. They can also join grants-in-aid research and development projects of the DOST. 

Experts who would qualify to the medium-term program that lasts from six months to one year are also eligible for a round-trip airfare exempt from travel tax, subsidized visa, a tax-exempt daily allowance determined by DOST.

Under the long-term program that lasts from one to three years, participants can avail of one round-trip airfare exempt from Philippine travel tax; special relocation benefits, monthly relocation allowance and special non-immigrant Visa for their children and spouse, among other benefits. 

In its website, DOST said the “Balik Scientist” program was established in 1975 to strengthen the country's scientific and technological human resources.

“Balik Scientists have been instrumental in providing solutions to national concerns, especially in areas where there are limited experts residing in the country,” it said. — Job Manahan


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