Philippines Enacts Law To Reverse Brain Drain

The Philippines has enacted a law to encourage Filipino scientists based overseas to return to the Philippines and carry out research in their home country.

AsianScientist (Jun. 28, 2018) – The Philippines has enacted a law that provides assistance to Filipino scientists who intend to return to the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11035, also known as the ‘Balik Scientist Act,’ on June 21, 2018. ‘Balik scientist’ literally means ‘returning scientist,’ or ‘scientist going home.’

The Balik Scientist Program (BSP) was initially established in 1975. Under the program, the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) assists scientific researchers, engineers, innovators and technologists either on a short-term or long-term basis as they seek to integrate back into the Philippine science community.

Since it was established four decades ago, the program has helped 567 scientists return to the country to conduct their research. In 2017 alone, the program benefited almost 40 scientists.

The new law institutionalizes the 40-year-old BSP and expands the benefits and compensations that the beneficiaries of the program receive. Under the law, a returning Filipino scientist is entitled to a round trip airfare from a foreign country to the Philippines, relocation benefits for the scientist’s family, as well as medical insurance and support in securing job opportunities and a working visa.

Monthly housing or accommodation allowance, funding for the establishment and development of a laboratory or facility, and tax and duty exemptions on the importation of professional equipment and materials are also included as part of the relocation package.

“This law will help address the shortage of scientists in the country,” said Senator Bam Aquino, the main author of the law, in a press statement.

As of 2013, UNESCO reported that there are only 189 scientific researchers in the Philippines per million citizens. To achieve the UNESCO standard, the country needs to train an additional 19,000 scientists.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Pixabay.
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Shai Panela is an award-winning freelance science journalist based in the Philippines. She was part of the Asian Science Journalism fellowship program of the World Federation of Science Journalists in 2013 and covers stories in science, health, technology and the environment.

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