Senate abolishes honoraria cap for science-tech personnel 

SENATOR Bam Aquino

THEnSenate on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to amend Republic Act No. 8439, or the “Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and other Science and Technology Personnel in the Government Act,” to expand state support for Filipino science workers, and empower their efforts towards the country’s development.

Senate Bill No. 1534, was sponsored by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, and passed with 15 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and no abstentions.

“It is high time that we deliberately retain and empower our Filipino scientists, engineers, researchers, and other science and technology practitioners so we may harness the benefits of S&T to further our national agenda,” Aquino said.

The bill was co-sponsored by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senator Loren Legarda, and was co-authored with Senators Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, and Sherwin Gatchalian.

According to Aquino, the end goal of the bill was to “create and encourage more and more scientific minds in the Philippines dedicated to nation-building.”

If passed into law, it would remove the limits currently imposed on the amount of additional honoraria science and technology personnel can receive from externally funded grants.

In addition, the bill would expedite access of government science and technology personnel not employed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to the said benefits offered by RA 8349- “upon certification of the head of their agency that they are involved in research and development or other scientific and technological activities.”

Another key provision of the bill, Aquino said, is that it would allow for the extended employment of science and technology personnel due for compulsory retirement for a period of up to five (5) years if they are involved in priority research and development programs of the DOST “to encourage opportunities for continued research and mentorship.”