science and technology bill

Sen. Bam: Balik Scientist Bill hurdles Senate on third and final reading

The Senate has passed on third and final reading a measure seeking to attract scientists and experts of Filipino descent residing overseas to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

Principally authored and sponsored by Sen. Bam, Senate Bill No. 1533 under Committee Report No. 143, or the Balik Scientist Bill, hurdled the third and final reading via a 13-0 vote.

 “This is a step towards improving the country’s research and development sector. We must support more initiatives to empower our scientists and researchers,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

 The measure aims to provide overseas Filipino scientists with financial benefits and incentives to encourage them to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development.

 It seeks to institutionalize the Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which successfully encouraged some of our scientists to return and contribute to research that will help address development gaps in the Philippines.

 If enacted into law, Sen. Bam hopes that it will also address the lack of science professionals caused by the exodus of scientists and researchers to other countries.

 In a recent committee hearing spearheaded by Sen. Bam, it was revealed that the Philippines has 189 scientists per million, a far cry from the ideal ratio of 380 scientists per million.

Compared to other countries, the Philippines lags behind South Korea and United States, which have 5,300 and 3,500 scientists per million, respectively. Malaysia, for its part, has 2,000 scientists per million.

 A Balik Scientist is a science and technology expert or professional, as certified by the DOST, who is currently or who was formerly a Filipino citizen or a foreigner of Filipino descent, residing abroad, and contracted by the government to return and serve in the Philippines along his or her field of expertise under short, medium, or long term engagement.

Senate Bill No. 1211: Philippine Space Act

Rocket ships, astronauts, and scenes from outer space are what often come to mind at the mention of Space Science, but there are much more practicai technologicai appiications to this discipiine that can benefit countries iike the Phiiippines.

In fact, both deveioped and developing countries alike, including our ASEAN neighbors, have respective aeronautics and space agencies to build their own spaceships and join the ranks of space-faring nations.

Little known to many Filipinos is that our country has a number of existing programs related to space scjpnce including PAGASA, which has astronomical science programs; the National Mapping & Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA), which requires gathering satellite information; and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which handles disaster risk management. 

Other applications of space science and technology crucial to our country’s welfare are protection of national territory, natural resources accounting, and capacity building for telecommunications. 

This bill seeks the creation of a Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), which shall be responsible for creating and enacting our nation’s roadmap toward becoming fully participative in global space activity. 

The PhilSA would be responsible for developing space science technology policies, implementirig research and education programs, and establishing industry linkages between private and public sector stakeholders. Lastly, the PhilSA would be our country’s representation for international space agreements and arbitrations. 

A Philippine Space Agency, with its consolidated programs and strategies for space science and technology, will pave the way for future Filipino astronomers, space scientists, and astronauts by laying down a strong foundation in space science education and research.

In view of the foregoing, the passing of this bill is earnestly sought.


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