Ba­lik Sci­en­tist Act gets boost

Manila Bulletin - - National News - By ELLSON A. QUISMORIO

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.

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