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Manila, Tokyo to convene 10th infra meeting online amid pandemic

October 28, 2020

Philippine and Japanese officials will hold high-level discussions tomorrow on the progress of the Japan-funded infrastructure projects under President Duterte's signature  "Build, Build, Build" program,  and this would happen via videoconferencing for the first time amid the travel restrictions resulting from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. The 10th Japan-Philippines Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation, to be held on Wednesday (Oct.28), will also be the first time that this bilateral panel will convene under the new administration of Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.  Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will chair the Philippine side in the committee, while Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the special advisor to Prime Minister Suga, is expected to lead the Japanese side.  On top of discussing the status of Japan-funded “Build, Build, Build” projects, this high-level panel will also provide updates from both sides on Japan’s assistance to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response efforts, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.  Both sides will tackle the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of the Japan-supported projects and the safety of workers and other personnel involved in their construction.  The Philippines is also expected to share developments on the Mindanao peace process, the ongoing rehabilitation of Marawi City, and the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).   Japan, for its part, will provide updates on its ongoing assistance to Mindanao under the framework of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) and other programs designed to help promote stability and economic growth in the new autonomous region.  Among the Japan-funded infrastructure projects that the committee is expected to discuss in the Oct. 28 meeting are the Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase I), North-South Railway Project, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) Rehabilitation Project, Davao City Bypass Construction Project, and the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the committee met alternately in Japan and the Philippines.   The panel first convened in March 2017 in Tokyo, while its latest face-to-face meeting was in Hakone in December last year. Since the start of the Duterte administration, 15 loan agreements have been signed between the Philippines and Japan worth a combined JPY679.3 billion (approximately P317 billion or US$6.24 billion), of which 11 involve the construction of big-ticket projects under “Build, Build, Build." These agreements also include two loans amounting to JPY100 billion signed this year for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.  Japan ranks as the No. 1 provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines, with loan and grant commitments amounting to around US$10.1 billion as of June 2020.  This sum represents   38.53 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio.  As of June 2020, ODA loans from Japan amounted to US$10.03 billion (40.77 percent of the country's total ODA loans), while grants totaled US$69.45 million. This makes Japan the largest ODA loan provider to the Philippines and the 8th largest in terms of grant financing.  (DOF)  

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DILG hails Pangasinan COVID-19 practices, decreasing cases of positive

October 28, 2020

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday commended the effective implementation of various safety and health protocols in the province of Pangasinan, which is now yielding low cases of COVID-19. “Binabati natin si Governor kasi maganda yung pag-handle nila sa COVID situation. In fact, bumababa na yung kanilang active cases [We commend you, Governor for effectively handling the COVID-19 situation there. In fact, your active cases are decreasing],” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said during an interview on Network Briefing News with host Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar. As of October 26, there are 351 active cases in the province, while 1,200 patients have already recovered. Governor Amado Espino III, who also sat as guest on the program, recognized the concerted efforts of all local government units in ensuring that reported positive cases are well-managed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. “Nagpapasalamat kami una sa mga kababayan namin sa buong probinsya na sumusunod po at nakikinig sa mga payo at alintuntunin na ini-implement po sa buong probinsya. At the same time, I ‘d like to extend to the LGUs yung recognition and gratitude na nakikiisa po sila sa mga programa [We are first and foremost grateful to our fellow citizens who follow and listen to the advice and guidelines that are being implemented all over the province.  At the same time, I’d like to extend to the LGUs the recognition and gratitude for supporting the programs],” he said. “Hopefully, lalo pang bumaba at hindi naman natin inaasahan na mawawala kaagad, but kung patuloy po ang pagtutulungan, sigurado pong bababa at bababa [Hopefully, the number of COVID-19 cases will go down further, and we do not expect it to disappear immediately. But if we continue to cooperate, it will definitely go down],” he added. According to Gov. Espino, they have recently concluded the targeted mass testing of around 1,520 residents in the province, and out of this number, only 10 turned out positive. “Nais ko pong magpasalamat kay Secretary and of course the other departments na pumunta dito sa Lingayen [I would like to thank Secretary and of course the other departments for coming here],” he said. “Sana po tuluy-tuloy po yung magandang communication and at the same, pagga-guide niyo sa’min dito sa probinsya ng Pangasinan [ I hope the good communication will continue and, at the same time, your guidance to all of us here in the province of Pangasinan],” he added. Meanwhile, to help the agriculture sector during this pandemic, the provincial government of Pangasinan is buying the products of farmers at cost price and selling them to different towns in  the province through its “Pamanang Yaman Produktong Pangasinan” caravan. The project aims to promote the locally-made products of Pangasinan, including bangus, bagoong, and other woven products. For the opening of tourism, Governor Espino said they are still preparing the policies that need to be issued so they can support and participate in the Ride and Reef Corridor tourism bubble. (PCOO)

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Mga pamantasan bumida sa ikatlong yugto ng KUMAIN Webinar ng TF Zero Hunger

October 28, 2020

 “Labis nating pinapahalagahan ang presensya ng bawat kalahok sa aktibidad na ito, gayundin sa ating mga katuwang na ahensya na naglaan ng kanilang napakahalagang oras upang mas marami ang higit pang makaunawa sa ilang mga programa ng administrasyon hinggil sa pagtugon sa kagutuman.” Ito ang bungad na pahayag ni Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Chair ng Task Force on Zero Hunger sa pormal na pagsisimula ng pangatlong bahagi ng “Kasapatan at Ugnayan ng Mamamayan sa Akmang Pagkain At Nutrisyon” o KUMAIN webinar series nitong Lunes, Oktubre 26, 2020. Ang pagbubukas ng ikatlong online seminar sa KUMAIN webinar series ay dinaluhan virtually nina CHED Chairperson J. Prospero De Vera III, NNC Executive Director Azucena Dayanghirang, DSWD Director Wilma Naviamos at Director Restituto Macuto, DOST-FNRI OIC Director Imelda Agdeppa, Dr. Maria Corazon Dumlao ng DepEd, kinatawan ng mga kasaping ahensya ng Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger at mga kalahok mula sa mga State Universities and Colleges. “Ang Webinar Series na ito ay naglalayong magbahagi ng impormasyon at itaas ang kamalayan sa nagpapatuloy na pagsisikap ng gobyerno na matupad ang mga commitments ng Pilipinas sa Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) ng United Nations 2030, partikular sa SDG No. 2: tapusin ang kagutuman, makamit ang seguridad ng pagkain at mapabuti ang nutrisyon at itaguyod ang sustainable agriculture. Sa ilalim ng Goal No. 2, tayo ay nakatuon na wakasan ang lahat ng uri ng pagkagutom at malnutrisyon - upang matiyak na ang lahat, lalo na ang mga bata, ay mayroong sapat at masustansiyang pagkain sa buong taon,” ayon sa opisyal ng Malacañang. Sa pamamagitan ng KUMAIN, nagkaroon ng mga serye ng talakayan at palitan ng kaalaman hinggil sa ilang mga paraan sa pagtutulungan ng gobyerno at iba’t-ibang mga stakeholders mula sa mga pamahalaang lokal, pribadong negosyo at mga institusyon sa edukasyon sa pagkamit ng Ambisyon Natin2040 at sa Philippine Development Plan 2017 - 2022 Maginhawa Pillar na naglalayong ganap nang mapalaya ang Pilipinas sa kagutuman at kahirapan. Ang kagutuman umano ay nananatiling isang pangmatagalang hamon sa bansa at mas lalong pinalala ng Covid-19 pandemic batay sa datos na lumabas kamakailan. Batay sa Social Weather System (SWS) Mobile Survey noong Setyembre 2020, ang naitalang 30.7% hunger rate (tinatayang 7.6 milyong pamilya) ay ang kabuuan ng 22.0% na nakaranas ng moderate hunger at 8.7% na nakaranas ng severe hunger. Gayundin, ang porsyento ng mga sambahayan na walang katiyakan sa pagkain ay tumaas nang malaki mula 53.9% noong 2018 patungo sa 64.1% noong 2019 ayon sa pinakahuling datos mula sa DOST Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s 2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS). “Noong Enero 10, 2020, nilagdaan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang Executive Order No. 101, na lumilikha ng Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger kung saan tayo ang itinalagang Chair. Ang task force ang naatasan upang tiyakin na ang mga patakaran, mga inisyatibo, at programa ng gobyerno ay magkaka-ugnay, tumutugon, at epektibo sa pagtiyak sa seguridad ng pagkain, at pagtugon sa gutom at malnutrisyon. Sa mga dumadaming isyu na ito na may kaugnayan sa involuntary hunger, seguridad sa pagkain, kakulangan sa nutrisyon, child wasting, stunting, at minsan ay humahantong sa pagkamatay, kailangan nating gumawa ng maingat na koordinasyon, makatuwiran, masubaybayan, at suriin ang mga pagsisikap ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno upang maibsan natin ang gutom at makamit ang seguridad ng pagkain sa pamamagitan ng whole-of-government approach,” paliwanag ng Kalihim ng Gabinete. Upang magawa ito, kanilang masusing pinag-aralan at inalam ang 6 Key Results Areas or KRAs upang makalikha ng mga roadmaps para maisakatuparan ang Zero Hunger Task Force’s major deliverable: ang unang National Food Policy (NFP) na matagumpay na inilunsad noong Oktubre 16, kasabay sa pagdiriwang ngayong taon ng World Food Day. Ang NFP ay produkto ng Task Force Zero Hunger kung saan inilalarawan nito ang pambansang mga priyoridad batay sa isang komprehensibong pag-unawa sa ating problema sa kagutuman at mga kaugnay na isyu sa gitna ng COVID-19 pandemic. Ito rin ang magsisilbing roadmap ng Pilipinas sa pagkamit ng Zero Hunger,” dagdag pa ng dating mambabatas ng Davao. Ang mga miyembro ng Task Force ay nahahati sa anim (6) na Technical Working Groups (TWGs) para pagsama-samahin ang kani-kanilang KRA. Pangunahing tungkulin ng mga TWG na ito ay matukoy ang mga estratihiya, indicators at mga taunang target pagkatapos ay subaybayan, suriin, at ayusin ang iba't ibang mga aktibidad sa pagtugon sa iba't ibang mga yugto ng kagutuman. “Sa ating pagtugon sa problemang ito, kritikal ang pagkaroon ng whole-of-society approach. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit binibighyan natin ng diin ang halaga ng pakikilahok ng mga SUC, upang ito ay maging isang eye-opener para sa mga kasapi ng akademya at makita kung saan maaari kayong mag-ambag sa ilang national government programs tungo sa pagsasakatuparan ng ating tunay na layunin.” Tulad ng kanilang ginawa sa unang yugto ng KUMAIN series, ipinakita ng National Nutrition Council ang Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition for 2017-2022. Ibinahagi ng Department of Social Welfare and Development, at ng Department of Education ang kani-kanilang mga Zero Hunger Interventions. Ipinamalas naman ng Department of Science and Technology - Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) ang kanilang mga teknolohiya para sa food fortification, at mga science and technology-based food products. Nagsalaysay din sa nasabing webinar ang Sultan Kudarat State University – na isang FNRI Food Technology Adoptor - upang ibahagi ang kanilang best practices at mga karanasan. “Kailangan namin kayo para gamitin ang mga teknolohiyang pang-pagkain ng FNRI upang mapalawak ang saklaw at maabot ang zero hunger programs at mapalaganap ang pag-access sa masarap, ligtas, malusog at masustansyang mga produktong pagkain. Maging bahagi ng kilusang ito. Tumaya tayo sa nutrisyon at kalusugan ng kabataan. Umambag tayo sa kinabukasan ng ating bansa. Maging kabahagi sana kayo sa labang ito ng bayan kontra sa kahairapan at kagutuman, Kapag tamang pagkain at sapat, panalo tayong lahat!” Nagpaabot ng pasasalamat si Nograles sa pamunuan ng Commission of Higher Education na nakipagtulungan sa Office of the Cabinet Secretariat, NNC, DOST-FNRI, DSWD, at DepEd para sa pagsasagawa ng third leg ng KUMAIN Webinar Series. (OCS)

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Road infra projects facilitate mobility in far-flung Bukidnon communities

October 27, 2020

The road projects that have been implemented linking far-flung communities in the town of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon greatly helped in the transport of local goods to the market, Mayor Anthony Uy reported on Monday. In an interview, the local chief executive noted that it used to take a few hours before reaching some of the 13 barangays there, such as Hagpa and Calabugao which are 46 kilometers away from the town proper. “Noon, four hours yung travel ng mga tao papunta sa kanilang mga barangay galing sa Poblacion papunta ng barangay Calabugao, Hagpa, at Bulonay [Before, it would take residents four hours to travel from the Poblacion back to their barangays in Calabugao, Hagpa, and Bulonay],” he said during the Network Briefing News with host Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar. “Pero dahil sa road rehabilitation ng ating Pangulo, na pinakamalaking proyektong naibigay dito sa Impasug-ong, ngayon ay almost 70% na yung sementado yung daan. Hindi na mahihirapan yung mga farmers natin o mga tao na mag-travel o mag-transport ng kanilang local products [But because of the road rehabilitation of our President, which is the biggest project we received here in Impasug-ong, almost 70% of our roads here are already concrete. Our farmers and people here no longer have the difficulty to travel or transport their local products],” he added. According to Mayor Uy, 68% of the total population there is composed of indigenous peoples identified as the Higaonons, who are the major beneficiaries of the assistance poured by the national and local government. The economy of the municipality largely depends on agriculture. That is why, the local government is now looking into providing a more centralized marketing venue for farmers, especially their local produce of potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and lettuce. “This pandemic has greatly affected our farmers. So, yung plano ng munisipyo is magkaroon ng Bagsakan Center dito para yung mga high value crops ng ating mga farmers, dito na nila ibagsak lahat [This pandemic has greatly affected our farmers. So, the plan of the municipality is to have a Bagsakan Center, where they can market their high value crops],” he said, noting that this will also help farmers bargain better prices for their products. Through the aid of the Department of Agriculture, the town of Impasug-ong provides livelihood projects such as livestock dispersal of cattle and native chickens. It also has commercial poultry breeder farms and communal cattle ranch. The 642-hectare communal ranch is the only government-owned communal ranch in the country. With these assistance from the government, Mayor Uy said that the locals continue to do their part in attaining development for the municipality, including the IP communities. “Yung mga Higaonon din natin is aktibo po sila na nagsusuporta ng lahat ng mga programa ng ating Pangulong Duterte lalo na yung ‘Balik-Loob program’ to end local communist armed conflict [Our Higaonons here are active in supporting all of the programs of President Duterte, especially the ‘Balik-Loob’ Program to end local communist armed conflict],” he said. Impasug-ong is one of the first-class municipalities in Bukidnon, and comprises the largest land mass in the province reaching to about 10% total area or 105,000 hectares. (PCOO)

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1,200 market vendors in Tanay, Rizal receive assistance from Bong Go

October 27, 2020

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go’s team distributed on Friday, October 23, various forms of assistance, such as food packs, masks and face shields, to 239 stall owners and 961 market workers in the municipalities of Tanay, Jala-Jala, Baras, and Morong in Rizal, bringing in a total of 1,200 beneficiaries. The distribution activity was done at Tanay Gymnasium in Tanay town in strict compliance with health and safety protocols imposed to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. “Importanteng maprotektahan ang mga kababayan natin na madalas nasa palengke kasi habang sinusubukan ninyong pasiglahin muli ang inyong kabuhayan at buhayin ang ating ekonomiya ay nagiging mas vulnerable po kayo sa sakit,” Go said. “’Yung transmission ng COVID-19 ay madalas pong nangyayari sa public places, tulad ng market. Kaya pinapaalalahanan ko kayo, mag-ingat po tayo palagi. Kung maaari ay huwag kayo masyado mag-gather at magtagal sa isang lugar. Pagbayad, puwede na po umalis ang bibili. Ingat po dahil delikado pa po ang sitwasyon sa panahon ngayon, kailangan natin ng kooperasyon sa bawat isa,” he explained further. Due to limited transportation, Go also provided bicycles to those who need them most in their commute to work. He also gave away tablets to another set of selected recipients for their children to use in the blended learning platforms implemented in schools. “Mayro’n din akong ipinadalang bisikleta at may pinadala rin po akong tablets na magagamit ng inyong anak sa pag-aaral. Sa mga kabataan, mag-aral kayong mabuti,” he reminded. “Ipakita natin sa ating magulang na nag-aaral kayong mabuti. Tayong mga magulang, nagpapakamatay po para mapag-aral ang ating mga anak, kaya kayong mga kabataan, mag-aral kayong mabuti. Ang inyong puhunan sa mundong ito ay edukasyon,” he added. One of those who received assistance, 63-year old Neptali Castro, who is a glassware, kitchen pots and plasticware vendor, said in an interview that he is appreciative of the efforts of the Senator to help the poor and vulnerable sectors. “Nagpapasalamat ako kay Senator Bong Go sa ginagawa niya at inaaksyunan niya. Binibigyan n’ya ng gabay at tulong ang maliliit na manininda tulad ko. Buong puso akong nagpapasalamat sa kanila. Sana kapain pa nila ang dapat kapain at tulungan ang mahihirap na tulad namin,” Castro added. Personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development also came to provide financial assistance and food packs to beneficiaries. The Department of Trade and Industry was also present to assess possible beneficiaries for the alternative livelihood assistance the government agency will provide. “Bukod sa tulong na inabot ng aking opisina, maraming salamat din sa DSWD na magbibigay sa inyo ng financial assistance habang ang DTI naman ay may livelihood programs po. Halimbawa, gusto n’yo magtayo ng sari-sari store o eatery, pwede kayong bigyan ng puhunan at turuan magnegosyo ng tama,” Go explained. Go also urged the market vendors with health concerns to avail of medical financial assistance from the nearest Malasakit Center around Rizal province located at Antipolo City Hospital System Annex IV (Mambugan), Margarito A. Duavit Memorial Hospital in Binangonan, and Bagong Cainta Municipal Hospital. “Huwag po kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa akin, dahil trabaho ko po ang magserbisyo sa inyo. Huwag po kayo mawalan ng pag-asa. Magtulungan ho tayo at kapit lang, mga kababayan ko. Patuloy tayong magbayanihan at magmalasakit sa kapwa,” he said. “Alam ko hirap na kayo, kami rin po ni Pangulong Duterte hirap din kami pero hindi po kami nawawalan ng pag-asa dahil ang nagpapalakas po ng aming loob at nagbibigay lakas sa amin ay ang kapwa naming mga Pilipino,” Go added. (OSBG)

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Bong Go proposes expanded task force against systemic corruption; urges authorities to impose preventive suspensions on accused officials to preserve integrity of probe

October 27, 2020

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has earlier recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte for the creation of an expanded inter-agency task force to address systemic corruption in government. This, he said, is in support of initiatives of various agencies to cleanse its ranks in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s intensified campaign against corruption. Go’s proposal came after reports of prevalent systemic corruption in various agencies, such as alleged anomalies in the Department of Public Works and Highways, the 'pastillas’ scheme in the Bureau of Immigration, extortion in the Bureau of Customs, the embezzling of funds in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and the rice smuggling in the agriculture sector, among others. “It is enraging to hear such reports because we, led by President Duterte, have always adopted a zero-tolerance policy on corruption. This is why I am recommending to the President to create an enhanced task force to put an end to these unscrupulous activities plaguing our bureaucracy,” Go said. “Imbestigahan dapat lahat. Wala tayong pipiliin, wala tayong sasantuhin. Kasuhan na ang mga dapat makasuhan. Tuluyan ang mga dapat tuluyan. Towards the last one year and eight months of this administration, we must not hesitate in cracking down on corruption,” he emphasized. Go explained that the proposed task force can be a more empowered version of the previous task force created to investigate PhilHealth — with an expanded scope as it should cover all government agencies and should be allowed to operate until President Duterte ends his term in 2022. “Nag-usap po kami ng Pangulo. Bagamat exasperated na po siya dahil sa mga nababalitang laganap na corruption, hindi tayo papayag na masira ang magandang pagbabago na pinaghirapan nating lahat noong nakaraang mahigit apat na taon dahil lang sa kalokohan ng iilan,” he said. “Sa natitirang isang taon at walong buwan, mas palalakasin pa natin ang kampanya laban sa korapsyon, kriminalidad at iligal na droga,” Go added. The Senator said that the expanded task force must be empowered enough to conduct probes on any government agency with the support of concerned governing bodies, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, among others, as well as all branches of government. “Magtulungan tayong lahat para matigil na ang katiwalian sa gobyerno mula sa pinakamababa hanggang sa pinakataas. Kung paano tayo magbabayanihan ngayon para labanan ang pandemya, magkaisa rin dapat tayo para puksain ang sakit na korapsyon sa ating sistema,” he urged. Go said that the proposed task force will be mandated to investigate allegations of corruption in any agency, conduct lifestyle checks on officials, audit public funds, prosecute and file charges against those accused, recommend suspensions when necessary, and put in jail those who will be found guilty. “It is important to remove the ‘bad eggs’ para hindi na makasira pa sa serbisyo ng gobyerno o makahawa pa sa mga ibang kawani ng gobyerno na nais lang magsilbi sa kapwa Pilipino,” he previously said. Go urged the proper authorities to recommend or impose preventive suspensions on public officials and government employees who are suspected of graft, corruption or negligence. “Dapat po pilayan o putulan na ng daliri para hindi na makagalaw. Ang preventive suspension ay mainam na paraan para hindi na makagawa pa ng kalokohan o makipagsabwatan para maitago ang katotohanan,” he explained saying that the integrity of the ongoing probes must be free of any influence from abusive officials. Go also warned public servants to live within their means and adhere to the values and standards set forth in Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. “Hindi lang po ‘yon, dapat po ma-lifestyle check rin ang mga nasa gobyerno para matingnan po kung saan nila kinukuha ang kanilang pera. ‘Yung iba dyan hindi naaayon sa kanilang sweldo ang pamumuhay — sweldong gobyerno pero buhay milyonaryo,” he said. In line with a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, Go reiterated that there must be more safeguards to protect public funds from corruption, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Filipinos must know where their money is going and how it is being used. They entrusted this money to us so it can benefit all and not just a few. That is why every peso should be accounted for up to the last centavo and used solely for public service,” he emphasized. “I now reiterate my appeal to our agencies and my fellow public servants to shape up now, because our people deserve nothing less but the best kind of service from a government that puts the welfare and interests of every Filipino first before their own,” he added. (OSBG)

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