President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday directed the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to look for ways to grant additional incentives to Filipino scientists to entice them to return to the country and share their skills and knowledge.
The President also encouraged the DOST to sustain and augment the short-, medium-, and long-term benefits for the scientists and their families provided for under the law and beyond during the 8th Annual Balik Scientist Program Convention on Thursday.
“As we take advantage of the many opportunities available to us under what is becoming the new normal, it is important to highlight the critical role of the DOST, with the help of the participating ‘Balik Scientists,’ to address the perennial issues in the country through research and development initiatives,” he said.
Mr. Marcos revealed he was a “frustrated scientist” and spent most of his academic years pursuing a career in science only to be discouraged by his late father and namesake, the former President.
“All my scholastic career was spent in science and it was only toward the end that it was explained to me by my father that science is difficult, you will not get rich in science,” Mr. Marcos said.
The President said if his father were still alive, he would introduce him to Tesla CEO Elon Musk; Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos; and tech companies Microsoft and Apple.
“That is why I feel very strongly about it and I know the advantages that science can bring and that the training in the technical, the technical training that our students can receive and the advantages they will bring to themselves and also to our transforming economy,” he added.
During the event, Mr. Marcos called on the DOST headed by Secretary Renato Solidum to provide more incentives for Filipino scientists.
“You must continue to strengthen the implementation of the Balik Scientist Program and find ways to provide more incentives to encourage more Filipino scientists to come back to the country and share their expertise,” he added.
The DOST’s Balik Scientist Program encourages Filipino scientists, technologists, and experts to return to the Philippines and share their expertise in order to promote scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development, including the development of the country’s human capital in science, technology, and innovation.
The program aims to reverse the effect of the so-called “brain drain,” improve science and technology capabilities, accelerate the flow of technologies, and promote knowledge sharing.
The enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act in June 2018 also paved the way for DOST to grant returning Filipino scientists with competitive benefits such as daily subsistence allowance, health insurance, and roundtrip airfare.
Mr. Marcos likewise lauded the DOST for its efforts in creating opportunities for emerging Filipino scientists.
“These benefits include allowances, education assistance for their minor children, and participation in grants-in-aid projects, amongst many others. And perhaps, we will take even more initiatives because in this technological world, once again, we look to our scientists, we look to science to solve our problems, to show us the way to the future,” he said.