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Thursday, 26 January 2017

The University of Santo Tomas organised its third Model ASEAN Meeting

Manila (26/01) - On 23-25 January 2017, sixty undergraduate students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and other different colleges and universities in the Philippines participated in the UST-Model ASEAN Meeting (MAM). This was the third time the university hosted the initiative since January 2015. The student delegates participated in a three-day simulation of the annual ASEAN meetings, including Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), Ministerial Meeting, and the ASEAN Summit. They role-played senior officials of ASEAN as they tried to interact, discuss, and address respective topics pertinent to the three main pillars of ASEAN: Political-Security Community, Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community.

In line with the goals of ASEAN integration, the participating students were given the opportunity to be stakeholders as they resolved the most urgent issues critical to the development of the region. Apart from engaging in the procedures and other mechanisms of an ASEAN meeting, the students gained and enhanced skills in research, diplomacy, and public speaking.

Prior to the event, the students had rigorously examined the different policies and stance of their assigned governments. Speakers from the ASEAN Affairs Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines were tapped to discuss ASEAN integration in the context of employment opportunities and other topics.

The student delegates were divided into three groups beforehand revolving around the three main pillars of ASEAN. Three topics of relevance discussed in the UST MAM were issues such as Regional Cooperation on Drug Matters for the Political-Security, Investment in Food, Agriculture, and Forestry for the Economic Community, and Mental Health for the Socio-Cultural Community. Thus, the students did not only partake in exploring the recent policies of their assigned national governments but also collaborated to come up with regional cooperation strategies with with other countries in the region.

The UST MAM was one of the highlights in the week-long event entitled “One with ASEAN 2017: Envisioning Development beyond the Challenges of Integration”. Organised by the Asian Studies Society of the University of Santo Tomas in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, the event primarily aimed to bridge the gap of awareness of ASEAN integration among students in the country. Aside from the MAM endorsed by the ASEAN Foundation, these series of events also entailed a cultural exposition of ASEAN member countries and a community development programme. The week-long event will formally end on 27 January 2017.

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