Govt to hire more scientists, promising more benefits

More science and technology (S&T) practitioners may soon be encouraged to join the government service as the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 8734, seeking to increase the benefits granted to S&T personnel in the public service.

The bill aims to empower Filipino scientists to expand the country’s pool of S&T experts and motivate them to continue working for the government.

The implementation of the proposal, principally authored by Reps. Alfred Vargas III (6th District, Quezon City), Michael Romero PhD. and Enrico Pineda of 1-Pacman Party-list, and Luis Raymund Villafuerte (2nd District, Camarines Sur), would entail the amendment of Republic Act 8439, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers, and other S&T Personnel in the Government.”

First, the bill seeks to amend Section 7 of RA 8439, entitled “Other Benefits”, so that notwithstanding laws and issuances on the Compensation and Position Classification System and Salary Standardization in the Government, S&T personnel defined in Section 5 of RA 8439 shall receive honorarium.

S&T personnel who rendered services beyond the established regular workload of scientists, technologists, researchers, and technicians whose broad and superior knowledge, expertise on professional standing in an expertise in a specific field contributes to productivity and innovativeness, shall be entitled to receive honorarium subject to the rules set by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The government shall not impose a limit on the amount of additional honoraria that may be received by the S&T personnel from externally-funded grants.

Second, the bill seeks to amend Section 8 of RA 8439, entitled “Non-DOST and DOST Personnel”, so that S&T personnel not employed by the DOST, who are involved in Science and Technological Activities (STA), may avail of the benefits under the Act upon certification of the head of agency for which they are conducting research and development or other STA.

The heads of agencies shall abide by the guidelines promulgated by the DOST for the certification of non-DOST personnel involved with research and development or scientific and technological activities and their entitlement to benefits provided in the Act.
Third, the bill seeks to amend Section 16 of RA 8439, entitled “Hiring of Retired Scientists And Technical Personnel”, so that the services of a scientist who is due for compulsory retirement may be extended for a maximum period of five years, provided that the research project is within the priority research and development programs of the DOST and is identified as strategic to national development as certified by the DOST Secretary.

Provided also, that the scientist is mentally and physically fit to complete the project. The request for extension of service shall be submitted to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for approval at least three months prior to the date of the compulsory retirement of the scientist.

The services rendered during the period of extension shall be credited as part of government service, and such extension shall entitle the employee to leave credits and other benefits.

Romero said the country recognizes S&T as an essential element for the attainment of national progress and development.

“It is hereby the declared policy of the State to provide for a program of human resources development in S&T to achieve and maintain the necessary reservoir of talent and manpower that will sustain its drive for total S&T mastery,” said Romero, who sponsored HB 8734 on the floor.

Vargas said that to promote technological advancement in the country, the State must invest in the human resources of those in the S&T field.

“In order to develop our country as a budding leader in science and ensure we reap the economic fruits of technological innovation, we must empower our Filipino scientists, engineers, and other S&T professionals,” said Vargas.

SOURCE: Rowena B. Bundang (2018). House passes bill granting more benefits to S&T personnel in gov’t service. 27 December 2018 01:19:40 PM. House of Representatives, Press and Public Affairs Bureau.