Press Release
September 6, 2013


Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara has filed a bill providing opportunities for further education, enrichment and training abroad for exceptionally able and highly motivated employed Filipinos.

Angara's Senate Bill No. 204 or "The Pensionado Act" seeks the establishment of a fellowship program to be called "Pensionado Program" which aims to pool together all fellowships, scholarships, training grants sponsored by foreign or local government, agencies and organizations intended for advanced studies in international centers of advanced learning and research.

"It is imperative for the government to devise a program for overseas education and training for the brightest and most promising Filipinos who are already employed or self-employed," the neophyte senator said.

"The proposed legislation endeavours to provide the Philippines a continuing supply of highly trained leaders for industry, research and academe," he added.

Twenty-four fellows would be selected annually by a selection panel consisting of three university presidents and two eminent members from the academe to be appointed by the Commission on Higher Education.

In order to qualify for the fellowship program, the applicant must be a Filipino citizen, gainfully employed in the government, private sector and those who are self-employed, and a college degree graduate with honors.

Moreover, the applicant should have demonstrated leadership and proven exceptional performance in his or her present work.

Those who will be selected and supported by the Philippine government to undertake advanced studies under this program would be called "pensionados."

Under the proposed measure, the pensionados are entitled to the following benefits: one year leave with pay, including allowances and other benefits; round-trip airfare to and from the host country and other travel expenses; clothing allowance; monthly stipend; books and research allowance; and health, travel and insurance fees.

The cost of each fellowship grant shall be shared by the pensionado's employer and the national government.

"While these local and overseas scholarship programs have produced a sizeable number of high-level professionals for the country, these programs have also resulted in a significant brain drain for our country," the senator said.

SB 204 mandates that immediately upon completion of the studies or training, the pensionado should return to his or her job or in another capacity, and serve on a full-time basis for a minimum period equivalent to twice the period covered by the fellowship grant.

Any recipient of the program who has not completed his course or who has violated the service obligation should reimburse the grant he or she received.

"Our goal is the maximum utilization of returning talents so they won't have to leave the country in search of greener pastures abroad," Angara said.

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