DOST sees big support from Duterte admin

MANILA , Dec. 11– The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) sees huge support from the administration because apart from budget increase, President Rodrigo Duterte supports the “Balik Scientists” program.

“(Among Duterte’s) priority bill is to have a Balik Scientist law,” Reynaldo Ebora, acting executive director of the DOST-attached agency Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Established in 1975, “Balik Scientists” is a DOST program that aims to encourage Filipino scientists abroad to return to the Philippines. It is the government’s way of addressing the country’s lack of researchers and scientists to advance its science programs.

Ebora said since the program’s establishment, the country has had a total of 567 Balik Scientists, who are given short- and long-term incentives.

For the short term, scientists may opt to stay in the country for 30-90 days. The DOST would shoulder their roundtrip airfare. The scientists would also be provided with a daily allowance of USD150.

For the long term, the scientists may opt to stay here for two to three years. DOST would shoulder the one-way airfare of the scientist, his/her spouse and two minor dependents. A prepaid return airfare would also be provided upon serving the scientist’s contract, research funding (upon request), and honorarium from the host institution, which could be a local or private institution seeking technical assistance.

According to Ebora, the current USD150 daily allowance of “Balik Scientists” would increase once a bill is passed.

“Once the bill becomes a law, this would increase the Balik Scientists’ entitlements,” Ebora said, adding that the Balik Scientists would be assured of the support since this would be included in the budget.

It was in 2007 when the DOST revitalized the Balik Scientists program, Ebora said.

Meanwhile, the DOST held its 3rd Annual Balik Scientists Program Convention here Friday.

The convention serves as a gathering of returning scientists to share experiences, as well as their works.

Ebora told PNA that majority of the scientists had a difficult time adjusting to the laboratories here.

“That is why they find the process here slow, since the laboratories here are not too advanced to cater to their needs,” he said.

“The DOST is structuring the process to address that problem. We encourage host institutions to also submit project proposals to us,” he added. (PNA)

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