The Senate has passed on third and final reading a measure seeking to attract scientists and experts of Filipino descent residing overseas to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development, according to Senator Bam Aquino.
Principally authored and sponsored by Aquino, Senate Bill No. 1533 under Committee Report No. 143, or the Balik Scientist Bill, hurdled the third and final reading via a 13-0 vote.
“This is a step towards improving the country’s research and development sector. We must support more initiatives to empower our scientists and researchers,” said the legislator, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.
The measure aims to provide overseas Filipino scientists with financial benefits and incentives to encourage them to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development.
It seeks to institutionalize the Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which successfully encouraged some of our scientists to return and contribute to research that will help address development gaps in the Philippines.
If enacted into law, Sen. Bam hopes that it will also address the lack of science professionals caused by the exodus of scientists and researchers to other countries.
In a recent committee hearing spearheaded by Sen. Bam, it was revealed that the Philippines has 189 scientists per million, a far cry from the ideal ratio of 380 scientists per million.
Compared to other countries, the Philippines lags behind South Korea and United States, which have 5,300 and 3,500 scientists per million, respectively. Malaysia, for its part, has 2,000 scientists per million.
A Balik Scientist is a science and technology expert or professional, as certified by the DOST, who is currently or who was formerly a Filipino citizen or a foreigner of Filipino descent, residing abroad, and contracted by the government to return and serve in the Philippines along his or her field of expertise under short, medium, or long term engagement.