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‘Frustrated scientist’ Marcos cites, value of tech, science

‘Frustrated scientist’ Marcos cites, value of tech, science thumbnail

Helen Flores – The Philippine Star

October 15, 2022 | 12: 00am

MANILA, Philippines —  Calling himself a “frustrated scientist,” President Marcos vowed yesterday to provide better incentives to Filipino scientists abroad who would return to help the country.

Speaking at the 8th Balik Scientist Program Annual Convention of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Pasay City, Marcos highlighted the important role of Filipino scientists in the country’s economic recovery and in confronting such challenges as the pandemic and climate change.

“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,” said the President. He vowed to sustain the benefits for returning scientists and their families provided under Republic Act 11035, the Act Institutionalizing the Balik Scientist Program.“How many times have we gone abroad and have we gone to see a success story in a private sector or in government… how many times have we found that at the core was a group of Filipinos working hard, waiting, hoping that they be given the opportunity to do that work here in the Philippines. That is what we need to provide for them. We need to provide for them the incentives,” Marcos said.

Benefits cited under RA 11035 include allowances, education assistance for minor children and participation in grants-in-aid projects.The Chief Executive also urged the DOST to develop more initiatives that would inspire young people to pursue scientific and technological courses.

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The President lamented that the Philippines lagged behind other countries, especially when it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses.?“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, 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.

‘Frustrated scientist’

In his speech, Marcos revealed that he is a frustrated scientist, recalling that when he was young his father, the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., told him that science would not make him rich.“I suppose with the words that I am saying you will be able to detect that I am a frustrated scientist,” Marcos said, drawing laughter from the audience.

“All my scholastic career was spent in science and it was only towards the end that it was explained to me by my father that ‘mahirap ‘yung science, hindi ka yayaman diyan’ (science is hard, it won’t make you rich),” Marcos said.“Boy, if you were alive now – I would like to introduce him to Elon Musk (SpaceX CEO and chief engineer). I’d like to introduce him to (Amazon CEO Jeff) Bezos. I’d like to introduce him to Microsoft, to Apple,” the 65-year-old Marcos said, referring to some of the world’s tech tycoons who are also among the richest in the world.?The President said he believes in the advantages of science in transforming the economy.“We have been confronted by a pandemic that again looks to science for solutions, for vaccines, for protocols, for strategies, for technologies that would help us out of that particular problem,” he said.

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Marcos urged the balik scientists to make use of their researches and innovations for the benefit of the Filipinos.“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,” he said.DOST welcomes support Science Secretary Renato Solidum said the DOST was encouraged by the President’s manifest support, especially for the Balik Scientist Program.

“The DOST is very happy and thankful for the President’s full support to Science and Technology, and Innovation,” Solidum told The STAR.The program, which encourages expatriate Filipino scientists to come back to the Philippines for a short period of time to provide technical expertise consultancy to Filipino institutions undertaking vital R&D, was started in 1975 during the presidency of Marcos’ father.

Undersecretary for research and development Leah Buendia, also head of the Balik Scientist Program, said the President’s support gives them confidence in possibly exceeding their target of engaging 101 overseas-based Filipino scientists to participate in the program next year.

Buendia said the President went a step further by reaching out to Filipino scientists abroad in his recent foreign trips.

“This year, we already have on board 27 Balik Scientists and 25 more applications currently being reviewed. We anticipate that these applications shall be approved by the end of the year,” she said. – Rainier Allan Ronda

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