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Duterte signs Balik Scientist Program into law

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the Balik Scientist Program, which seeks to provide incentives to Filipino scientists to entice them to return to the country.

Signed into law on June 11, Republic Act 110351 mandates the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to invite Filipino scientists to return to the Philippines to fill in the gaps in scientific and technological expertise in the country.

"The program shall aim to strengthen the scientific and technological human resources of the academe, public and private institutions, including locally registered enterprises in order to promote knowledge sharing and accelerate the flow of new technologies into the country," the law read.

Under the short-term engagement of the program, scientists will be given an engagement ranging from 15 days to a maximum of six months, while the medium-term program ranges from six months to one year.

Among the benefits under both engagements are airfare for one round trip, as well as a tax-exempt daily allowance as they participate in grants-in-aid (GIA) research.

Meanwhile, the long-term program will entail an engagement of one to three years, with airfare for one round trip for the awardees, their spouses, and minor dependents.

They will also be given special relocation benefits, participation in GIA research, and funding for the establishment and development of a facility or laboratory.

The funding for the program will be included in the annual budget of the DOST, in accordance with the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The law is a consolidation of Senate Bill 1533 principally authored by Senator Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV approved on March 20, 2018, and House Bill 5792 approved on March 21, 2018. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News