MANILA -- President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed Friday to fully support Filipino scientists, highlighting their important role in the country’s economic recovery and in confronting challenges such as the climate crisis.
“You may always be assured that I and my administration will extend all support in making science and innovation an instrument of progress and prosperity for the Filipino,” Marcos said during the 18th Annual Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Convention at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
“I encourage everyone here present to continue searching for more avenues to work with one another in employing science and innovation for the benefit of our people.”
According to the President, the pandemic has brought about the necessity for societies to innovate.
Marcos said with the current conditions affecting the country, Filipino scientists can help with various concerns, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Marcos highlighted the critical role of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)—with the help of the participating Balik Scientists—to address the perennial issues in the country through research and development initiatives.
“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 said.
Incentives must be given to returning scientists who wish to continue their careers locally, he noted, underscoring that through the Balik Scientist Program, they could be given equipment, facilities, and necessary funding.
More benefits, educational aid
The chief executive also expressed optimism that the government could sustain and augment the short, medium, and long-term benefits for the Balik scientists and their families provided for under the law.
These benefits include allowances, education assistance for minor children, and participation in grants-in-aid projects, among others.
He also urged the DOST to develop more initiatives that will inspire young people to pursue scientific and technological courses.
It is unfortunate, he said, that the Philippines lagged behind other countries, especially when it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses, stressing remedial measures must be taken.
“Let us also encourage our young people by showing them what a career in science, research and development, in what the work that is being done by Balik scientists and to motivate them and to inspire them, and to explain to them that you can do this too,” he said.
“I urge you to fully support all the research projects and the inventions that our Balik scientists bring. Let this platform as well as other programs inspire the younger generation of Filipino scientists to dedicate their talent, their knowledge, and energy for the nation,” he added.
Established in 1975, the BSP aims to encourage Filipino scientists to return home and share their expertise with their local peers.
The signing of the Republic Act 11035 in 2018 strengthened the program, as the law mandated the institutionalization of the BSP.
A new Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) was also crafted in addition to the upgrade of the Memorandum Circular 001 series of 2021 aimed at providing better incentives to Balik scientists.
Joining the President were DOST Secretary Renato Solidum, DOST Undersecretary Sancho Mabborang, DOST Assistant Secretary Leah Buendia, Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, Balik scientists, and other guests. (PND)