May 27, 2017 02:59 AM PST
SINCE 2007

Bongbong Marcos urges support for SALt invention

Sen. Bongbong Marcos expressed his frustrations over the government’s negligence to Filipino inventors as he urged support to inventors of the internationally-acclaimed salt-powered lamp.

He said our inventors have been complaining they experience difficulty in accessing the incentives due them under the law. This drives them to seek support outside the country.

“We should be the first ones to benefit from the innovative creations of our inventors. Unless we give them adequate support, we will always lose out to investors abroad who are always on the lookout for promising new products,” he said.

He called on the government to help the group of Filipina inventor Aisa Mijeno to realize their goal of mass producing their salt-water powered LED lamp.

“It is sad that the government has yet to provide support for Mijeno’s invention when both US President Barack Obama and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba recognized the potential of the invention.”

Mijeno, CEO of SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) shared the stage with Obama and Ma at the APEC CEO Summit where Obama moderated a session after his speech on climate change. She said her group needed funding to mass produce the lamp.

“SALt’s invention has gained international attention and earned various awards and it is puzzling why we have not seen any effort from the government to help bring this product of Filipino ingenuity to the market,” Marcos lamented.

The LED lamp can provide eight hours of light powered only by a solution of water and two tablespoons of salt or plain seawater.

The senator noted that SALt’s invention which will provide a cheap and dependable source of light in many rural areas of the country where there is still no electricity will also open employment opportunities if mass produced in the country.

He said concerned government agencies should take the initiative of reaching out to Mijeno’s group to inform them of the assistance they could avail of under RA 7459 or the Investors and Inventions Incentives Act.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives committee on appropriations has approved a substitute bill seeking to strengthen the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) to include more incentives and benefits that will lure Filipino scientists, technology experts and researchers staying abroad to return to the country and share their knowledge and expertise to help accelerate the country’s economic and social development.

The appropriations committee chaired by Davao .city Rep. Isidro Ungab approved the substitute bill to House Bill 5388 or the proposed “Balik Scientist Act” principally authored by Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Victor Yu (1st District).

Yu, Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, said due to the success of the “Balik Scientist Program,” established through Presidential Decree 819 dated Oct. 24, 29175 for a period of five years, the BSP has been revived and instituted under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through Executive Order No. 130 dated Oct. 25, 1993.

“The existing BSP needs to be institutionalized and strengthened to provide better incentives and benefits that would draw Filipino experts to return to their beloved country and share even for a limited period of time, and hopefully for good, their knowledge and expertise, thereby helping the country attain its objective of accelerating economic and social development,” said Yu.

The measure provides various incentives for short and long term programs for the Balik Scientists.

For the short-term, the incentives are: provision of one free round-trip airfare originating from a foreign country to the Philippines; daily allowance to be determined by the DOST shall be exempt from income tax; participation in Grants-in-Aid (GIA) research and development project/s of the DOST subject to guidelines to be provided in the implementing rules and regulations; and exemption from the licensing or permit requirement of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Other short term incentives are: reimbursement of expenses for excess baggage allowance related to scientific project or activities; exemption from taxes and duties of instruments and materials related to the scientific program or activities; and subject to the applicable provisions of Section 29 of Commonwealth Act No. 613, grant by the Secretary of Justice to the Balik Scientist of foreign citizenship special non-immigrant visas under Section 47 (a)(2) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, after compliance with the requirements.

Said Balik Scientist shall be exempted from the payment of visa, immigration and registration fees in accordance with Section 251 of the Philippine Foreign Service Code of 1983, as amended by Section 831 of Department Order No. 19a-95, series of 1995, otherwise known as the Regulations of the Department of Foreign Affairs, if applicable.

For long-term programs, the incentives for Balik Scientists are: provision of one free one-way airfare from a foreign country to the Philippines, including airfare for the spouse and two minor dependents, and one free return trip airfare after completion of the award or program; reimbursement of expenses for excess baggage allowance related to scientific project or activities; relocation allowance to be determined by the DOST; monthly allowance to be determined by the DOST shall be exempt from income tax; housing may be arranged by pre-determined host institutions; and as determined by the DOST, duty and tax-free importation of personal effects and professional instruments and materials in quantities and of class suitable to the profession, rank or profession of the Balik Scientists importing them for their own use and not for barter or sale in accordance with Section 105 of the Tariff Code. (MCA)