Duterte signs ‘Balik Scientist’ Act to reverse brain drain

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2018 05:12 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that would grant incentives to Filipino scientists who will return to the country for work.

Copies of the signed "Balik Scientist" Act were released to reporters by the President's office.

The Philippines has only half the required number of scientists compared to the size of the population, said its author, Sen. Bam Aquino.

"Matutugunan din ng batas na ito ang kakulangan ng bansa sa scientists, upang makasabay na tayo sa ating mga kapitbahay sa Asya na mas marami ang nagtatrabaho sa research and development," Aquino said in a statement.

(This law will address the country’s lack of scientists so that we can keep up with our Asian neighbors where many are involved in research and development.)

Scientists can enjoy the following benefits under the "Balik Scientist" Act:

- Exemption from licensing or permitting requirements from the Professional Regulation Commission
- Accident and medical insurance coverage
- Reimbursement of expenses for excess baggage allowance related to scientific projects
- Exemption from renouncing their oath of allegiance to the country where they took oath 
- Tax and duty exemption in the donation of equipment, instruments and materials to the DOST tax and duty exemption in the importation of professional equipment, instruments, and material for Balik Scientists
- Round trip airfare originating from a foreign country to the Philippines

Scientists may enter three different programs based on the length of their services. A short-term engagement is 15 days to 6 months long, while a medium-term engagement can run for 6 months to a year.

Long-term engagements may run from a year to 3 years and is subject to renewal.

Scientists doing short-term and medium-term engagements shall receive tax-exempt daily allowance.

Those doing long-term engagements, meanwhile, will receive special relocation benefits, tax and duty exemption in the importation of one motor vehicle, personal and household effects, and professional equipment, admission assistance to the preferred schools for their minor children, assistance in securing job opportunities for their spouses, and monthly housing or accommodation allowance.