House panel moves to strengthen Magna Carta for S&T personnel

The House committee on science and technology has approved a substitute bill which seeks to strengthen Republic Act 8439, otherwise known as the "Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and Other Science and Technology Personnel in the Government."


The bill seeks to amend Section 6 of RA 8439 titled "Salaries" so that the existing law on salary scale of government employees shall not apply in determining the salary scale of S&T personnel.

The new salary scale shall be developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in consultation with the Department of Budget and Management |(DBM) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), subject to the approval of the president.

In addition, there will be no limit to the amount of honoraria that scientists can receive as compensation from internally or externally funded grants-in-aid, provided this is part of a previously approved budget from the funding agency and does not entail usual expense to the government.

It also seeks to amend Section 8 of RA 8439 titled "Non-DOST S&T Personnel" so that S&T personnel not employed by the DOST who are involved in science and technology activities may avail of the benefits under the Act upon certification of the head of their agency that they are involved in research and development or other scientific and technological activities.

Likewise, the bill seeks to amend Section 16 of RA 8439 titled "Hiring of Retired Scientist and Technical Personnel" so that an employee retired under any existing law, who, in the judgment of the governing board or head of a research agency, possesses technical qualifications and the capability to undertake specific scientific research activities, may be rehired on contractual basis without refunding the unexpired portion of the gratuity and accumulated leave benefits received by him from the government. This is provided that no qualified S&T expert is available to undertake said scientific activities.

The services of a scientist who is due from compulsory retirement may be extended for a maximum period of five years. The research project is within the priority research and development programs of the DOST and identified as strategic to the national development as certified by the DOST secretary.

Finally, the request for extension of services shall be submitted to the CSC for approval at least three months prior to the date of the compulsory retirement of the scientist.

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.


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