Balik Scientist Act gets boost
Davao City 1st District Rep. Karlo Nograles is crediting President Rodrigo Duterte for the imminent enactment of the proposed Balik Scientist Act, a measure that he co-authored and strived to pass during the previous Congress. Nograles said that as a legislator, it is sometimes frustrating to push hard for the passage of a bill only to have your hopes dashed by time constraints.
This happened to the Balik Scientist Bill during the 16th Congress, he said.
"The measure reached third and final reading during the previous Congress but it ultimately did not pass due to lack of time. Luckily for us, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte recognized its importance and allowed it to prosper this 17th Congress," said Nograles, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
He said the particular bill seeks to improve the state of research and development in the country by luring a Filipino scientist or one of Filipino descent to share his or her expertise in the Philippines via various incentives.
"Increasing farmers' production is one of the more tantalizing long-term benefits of this proposed Act and is consistent with President Duterte's aim of unlocking the full potential of Philippine agriculture. We've long held that the country is a sleeping jugger- naut in this regard," Nograles noted.
The Davao solon said that the Bicameral Conference Committee is on the cusp of consolidating House Bill (HB) No.5792 and Senate Bill No. 1533, both of which bat for the institutionalization of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP).
The BSP is actually a decades-old but dormant program of the Philippine government. It was first established as a five-year program under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 819 issued on October 24, 1975.
The program was revived under Executive Order (EO) No.130 issued October 25, 1993, but not much has been heard from it since.
The House version of the proposed Balik Scientist Act classifies the incentives offered to returning scientists into two categories: for short-term award and for long-term award.