PH is suffering from brain drain – Senator Grace Poe

Senator Grace Poe Photo ©

IN a bid to end the Philippine brain drain, Senator Grace Poe recently filed a bill offering incentives and privileges to returning Filipino science and technology experts after the country lost them to “greener pastures.”

Senate Bill No. 1324 or the proposed “Balik Scientist Act” seeks to encourage Filipino scientists and technology experts to return to the country and participate in nation building through their expertise in science and technology (S&T). It also seeks to end the brain drain and usher in the “brain gain.”

“This bill envisions a future in which Filipino scientists contribute to nation-building and inclusive growth through the acceleration of research and development in the country,” said Poe.

Citing data from the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Poe said “brain drain” or outbound science and technology workers in the Philippines have increased 148 percent from 9,877 in 1998 to 24,502 in 2009.

As such, t‎he presence of research and development personnel in the Philippines stands at 165 per million Filipinos, way below the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommendation of 380 per million persons.‎

Under Sen. Poe’s proposal, returning scientists will be engaged for short-term, medium-term or long-term programs to be administered by the DoST.

For the short-term program with a duration of at least 30 days, benefits include round-trip airfare, reimbursement of excess baggage costs, relocation and tax-exempt daily allowance, participation in grants-in-aid research and development projects, and donation of instruments and materials related to the scientific activities.

“Nakatatak sa puso ng bawat Pilipino, saan man sila mapadpad at gaano man kalayo ang kanilang marating sa buhay, na mapaglingkuran ang bayan. Naniniwala tayong ang ating mga kababayang eksperto sa siyensya at teknolohiya ay malaki ang maitutulong sa pagtataguyod ng pantay na oportunidad sa bansa,” said Poe.

For medium-term engagement, which has a duration of six to 12 months, experts will be exempted from payment of travel tax including their immediate family and exemption from submission of immigration clearance certificate and payment of multiple-entry fees.

For the long-term award which has a duration of 24 to 36 months, the concerned scientist will obtain the following benefits: housing provision, reimbursement of expenses for the shipment of personal effects and professional instruments including one motor vehicle, exemption from securing an alien employment permit, budget to put up a laboratory, in addition to standard benefits extended to short- and medium-term programs.

“Ang husay at galing ng Pilipino ay ating ikintal at pag-ibayuhin tungo sa tagumpay ng ating mga mamamayang nagnanais ng mas mabuting buhay at mas maunlad na bansa,” said Poe.

Bernadette Escalo, MGM
Bernadette Escalo is an active veteran journalist with a Mass Communication and Masters in Government Management (MGM) degrees from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. She has experience in covering all major Philippine news beats -- the Office of the President, the Armed Forces, the Judiciary and Congress. Aside from the national beats, Ms. Escalo has experience in covering international events as she also covered the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits in Indonesia (1995) and Malaysia (1998); the World Economic Forum in Hong Kong (1997) and Singapore (1998); and the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference meetings in Canada (1997) and Mexico (2002). She is also among the very few who wrote about the humanitarian work of the Philippine military contingent in East Timor (1999) and Iraq (2004).

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