16 October 2020 – Ambassador Ramon S. Bagatsing, Jr. was invited to address the Virtual Welcome Ceremony for the 1st Batch of the International Scholars under the ASEAN PhD Fellowship Program on 16 October 2020. In his address, Ambassador Ramon S. Bagatsing underscored the Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s eminent passage, “The youth is the hope of our fatherland.” The Ambassador said that by providing quality education to the youth; it is a great way of strengthening that hope. The Ambassador commended the Indian Government in initiating the ASEAN PhD Fellowship Program for the ASEAN youth. Such program encourages the People-to-People Exchange among India and the ASEAN member-countries through education. It also revives the proud historical heritage of the ancient Nalanda University. The Ambassador also motivated the scholars to enjoy the learning and make the most of it. There are two Filipino Students who are accepted and studying under the ASEAN PhD Fellowship Program, namely: Ms. April Joy Pequina Pequena, Doctor of Philosophy under the Humanities and Social Sciences Program (English Language and Literature Education/ Learning Spaces) in IIT Roorke and Mr. Noe John Joseph Endencio Sacramento, Doctor of Philosophy under the Humanities and Social Sciences (Agricultural Policy or Policy Studies) in IIT Madras.The Chief Guest during the welcome ceremony was the Minister of Education Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank.’ Also present as the Guest of Honor was the Minister of State for Education Shri Sanjay Dhotre. Secretary of Higher Education Shri Amit Khare, Secretary (East) Ms. Riva Ganguly Das, ASEAN Coordinators, Directors and Representatives from Various IITs, ASEAN Heads of Mission in New Delhi, and the ASEAN Scholars were all present.
It may be recalled that on 25 January 2018 at the 25th Anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of President Rodrigo R. Duterte together with the other leaders of the ASEAN member-countries, announced the 1000 fellowships for ASEAN citizens to pursue PhD programs at an IIT of their choice. The program is exclusively for aspirants from ASEAN countries. To strengthen the deep and historical ties between India and ASEAN, India's foremost technical education centers, the internationally-renowned Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), welcome scholars from ASEAN countries to apply for PhD fellowships. The ASEAN PhD Fellowship Program is co-sponsored by India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of External Affairs.