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Thelma Cruz

Thelma Cruz

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MANILA (via PhilAmPress) ―Calls for Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to quit continue to mount at the House of Representatives as two more House leaders  challenged the embattled police official to submit his courtesy resignation and give President Rodrigo Duterte a free hand to decide on his fate.


President Duterte immediately came to dela Rosa’s rescue saying he will stay as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) despite calls for his resignation.


"He stays there. Bato has my complete trust," Duterte said before he attended the birthday celebration for Dela Rosa at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.


Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, and several groups have expressed their support for Dela Rosa, among them the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).


“It’s not too late for Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa” to redeem himself amid calls for him to resign, Lacson said.


Calls for Dela Rosa’s resignation came after a Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo was reportedly abducted by policemen last year and eventually killed in Camp Crame.


The Senate later opened its investigation into the killing as Malacanang offered its apology to South Korea and the family of Jee Ick Joo for what had happened. 


Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs which opened its inquiry into the Oct. 18, 2016 abduction-killing, said the NBI and PNP should quickly conduct a case conference in order to tighten the evidence against Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta Isabel and other suspects, including three others police officers, and smooth out contradictions in their case buildup efforts.

The case has sparked a demand for justice from Seoul authorities and marred the police's anti-drugs campaign, showing up the ugly side of rogue cops misusing the administration's war on drugs for criminal activities like extortion and kidnapping for ransom.


During the Senate hearing, PO3 Sta. Isabel, the main suspect in the abduction and subsequent murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, insisted that he was just a fall guy and was set up by the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group.


Testifying at the inquiry by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, Sta. Isabel related the conversation he had with Colonel Raphael Dumlao, his immediate commander at the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, and and a certain Col. Allan Macapagal, who both went to his house on January 14 to try to convince him to become a fall guy and implicate other policemen in the kidnap-slay.


Sta. Isabel told the Senate what the two officers said to him in Pilipino: “This is the scenario: all this is only a zarzuela. The Chief PNP, as well as director Glenn Dumlao, will make you look bad on TV to make it appear that you are the most evil person in the PNP. All we need is someone who will testify that, when the Chief PNP makes his press release… anyway all the other policemen are already dead and they can’t testify against you… you will only pinpoint who are your cohorts who did the kidnapping and withdrew the money.”


Sta. Isabel said that they even threatened him if he did not cooperate.  He was also given a list of names of policemen to be killed who are involved in the kidnapping.


Sta. Isabel volunteered to present before the Senate the recording of the conversation between his wife and Dumlao, but the senators refused because it is against the anti-wiretapping law.


Dumlao, who is also accused of involvement in the abduction and murder of Jee, denied all of Sta. Isabel’s allegations.


Sta. Isabel also denied having gone several times to the subdivision in Angeles City prior to the abduction of the victim.


Dela Rosa also came under fire for attending the concert of Canadian singer Bryan Adams the same day the Korean businessman was killed.


Lacson, a former PNP chief, said that he knew Dela Rosa personally and noticed that he had “changed” probably because of “fame or popularity” but was hopeful that if he returned to his old ways, he would be able to recover.


VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez said calls for Dela Rosa to resign is still premature, “but it is a wake-up call for him to work double time.”


“I understand where Speaker Alvarez is coming from because Congress is the one appropriating budget for police operations. But his resignation is premature, in fact he worked hard to address this problem,” he said.


A number of policemen have been tagged in the kidnap-slay case of a South Korean businessman, including Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and his immediate superior in the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, Superintendent Raphael Dumlao.


Sta. Isabel, who surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation last week, has been transferred to the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame.


Dumlao, meanwhile, has been placed under restrictive custody at the AIDG office in Camp Crame.


Buhay Partylist Rep. Jose Atienza Jr. and Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, a former police general, said Dela Rosa has no other option but to submit his courtesy resignation or immediately leave his post following the murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo inside the PNP national headquarters at Camp Crame by his alleged policemen kidnappers led by Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel.


“We support Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s call for him to resign because of that major failure to the national police leadership. This is a big scandal for the country, the Duterte administration and the ongoing war ondrugs. Under the principle of command responsibility, it dictates that he should take the bullet for the President and no alibis can possibly soften public anger on what had happened to the South Korean victim,” Atienza said.


Last week, Alvarez urged Dela Rosa to resign to save President Duterte from further embarrassment and restore respect to the Office of the PNP Chief.


“The commission of a heinous crime right under his very nose is not only an insult but a clear indication that he has lost the respect of his people,” Alvarez has said.


Atienza said that Dela Rosa’s departure will give the PNP the opportunity to regain its already tarnished image even before the killing of the South Korean happened.


“There is no way he can retain himself and we urge the President to let him go and choose a better man who will not be an embarrassment to his anti-illegal drugs campaign,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.


“He can no longer effectively convince the public that he can do the job. He should enjoy life and give the PNP a chance to excel and regain public trust. The very sad fate of the South Korean victim made him to lose his ability to effectively lead the PNP,” Atienza said.


Meanwhile, Acop said that Dela Rosa can ease the burden of the President by submitting a courtesy resignation as soon as possible.


“If I were PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa, I will tender my courtesy resignation to the President,” the chair of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety said.


“I will not let the President decide on the suggestions or recommendations of other people. I will personally tender my courtesy resignation because it happened under my own roof and my own men were involved,” Acop said.


A lawyer and former police general, Acop added that he was shocked and embarrassed by the illegal activities of some police officers nowadays despite the presence of a tough-talking Chief Executive.


“For the PNP, it is a big blow. One, it happened within the national headquarters. Two, it would have been better for them if civilians were the perpetrators. As it happened, the perpetrators of the crime were their own men. It is a double whammy for the PNP,” Acop said.


Malacanang expressed resentment over the abduction and slay of Hanjin executive Jee Ick Joo inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame.


"We are outraged by the abduction and slay of a South Korean executive inside Camp Crame," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.


The Palace official assured that there will be no whitewash in the investigation of Jee’s killing reportedly involving rogue cops.


"We will not tolerate corrupt, abusive, errant policemen who betray the organization and the men and women in uniform who continue their faithful, dedicated and loyal service to the country," Abella said.


The Korean executive was reportedly strangled to death with his head covered with a packaging tape.


Three policemen -- SPO4 Roy Villegas, SPO3 Rickey Sta. Isabel and PO2 Christopher Baldovino -- are now being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).


According to news reports, Jee and house helper Marisa D. Morquicho were abducted by two unidentified men from his house in Pampanga on October 18 last year.


Morquicho testified that the abductors told her that her boss.


Metro Manila film festival net 'significantly low'

Published in Entertainment


(Photo from the Official Facebook Page of Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) | @mmffofficial


Now, it can be told that despite alleged success in reorganizing the Metro Manila Film Festival with new rules and the entry of digital movies, its box office haul is low.

Producers themselves who joined the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) reported that the revenues were "significantly lower" compared to previous years, citing latest figures.


Producer Star Cinema revealed last week that its entry in the MMFF 2016, “Vince & Kath & James” was the overall top grosser of the filmfest with earnings of P105 million.


“Die Beautiful” starring Paolo Ballesteros ranked second with P98 million, according to Star Cinema. 
This was followed by “Seklusyon” (P82 million), “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2” (P45 million), “Saving Sally” (P27 million), “Sunday Beauty Queen” (P7.8 million), “Kabisera” (P4.3 million) and “Oro” (P4.2 million).


All the cited revenues amounted to only P373.3 million, less than half of the earnings in MMFF 2015 of P1.020 billion from December 25 to January 7, 2016. 

It should be noted that the 2016 festival only ran from December 25 to January 3, 2017 -- or four days shorter than usual.


In 2014, the eight entries of MMFF raked in P1.014 billion.


MMFF Executive Committee member Boots Anson-Roa, in an ABS-CBN report, had admitted that the dip in the film fest earnings may have been due to the exclusion of tested box office draws such as Vice Ganda’s “Super Parental Guardians” and Vic Sotto’s “Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers.”


MMFF 2016 spokesperson Noel Ferrer defended the reforms this year, saying they wanted to give opportunities to great independent films with small production budgets.


In another development, responding to the call of Senator Grace Poe to investigate the controversial dog slaughter scene in the Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Oro,” the MMFF Executive Committee decided to strip it of a special award named after Poe’s father, the King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe, Jr.


“Upon prior consultation with the family of the late Fernando Poe, Jr, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee announces its decision to withdraw the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award recently granted to the film ‘Oro.’ Without making any judgment on the artistic merit of the film or cinematic depiction, the MMFF finds the present controversy on the alleged killing of a dog in the course of the filming of the movie effectively casts a doubt on the movie’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe, Jr.,” went the MMFF statement.


In addition to the withdrawal of the award, the MMFF also stopped the showing of the film in its present version pending the submission of an edited version that does not include the questionable scene.


“Pursuant to the agreement reached by the lawyers present during the inquiry, a new DCP in keeping with animal welfare will be submitted for showing plus affidavit of support for human and animal rights and welfare alike…In the meantime, out of prudence, and without prejudice to the law taking its course on whether or not an animal was killed in the course, or in connection with the filming of ORO, no showing in theaters of the present version shall be allowed,” the MMFF Execom said in a separate statement.


Sen. Vicente Sotto, meanwhile, proposed thatthe Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the governing body behind the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), create a separate festival for independent films.


Sotto filed a Senate resolution last week “Recommending the MMDA to Establish a Film Festival Exclusively for the Independent Films During the Long Semestral Break.”


The resolution is seen as an offshoot of the just concluded 42nd MMFF, which introduced sweeping reforms that prized artistic merit over commercial viability and resulted in a line-up dominated by independent films.


“The dominance of independent films in the 42nd MMFF stirred discussions in social media and in the movie industry. While these independent films are considered by some as ‘a breath of fresh air from the usual funny, fantastical storylines,’ and ‘encourage people to think,’ most of the regular MMFF moviegoers are still looking for the kinds of films screened in the previous MMFFs – movies that give them a good laugh,” Sotto said.


Sotto questioned the quality of the eight official entries in the Yuletide festival but did not specify which films he was referring to, Edwin Sallan reported on


“Quality ba ‘yun? Hindi high-end equipment ang gamit. Hindi top quality ang video,” the veteran lawmaker remarked to Senate reporters.


He said that the recent festival did not cater to children and young audiences, which echoed the stance of Regal Films’ Mother Lily Monteverde that the MMFF was for children and the whole family.


However, film critic Philbert Dy was quick to question Sotto’s motives in a Twitter post:”Let’s call it what it is: a Senate resolution to bring back a shitty system that directly benefited his brother.”


Sotto, a former entertainer, is the elder brother of comedian Vic Sotto, the star of the “Enteng Kabisote” fantasy film franchise that was an MMFF staple for many years.


The latest installment of the “Enteng Kabisote” series failed to qualify in the recent festival and was screened in late November. It went head to head against another high-profile MMFF reject, the Vice Ganda-Coco Martin vehicle “Super Parental Guardians,” and was clobbered at the box office.


Actress and MMFF selection committee member Mae Paner called Sotto’s resolution a divisive move.


“Senator Sotto,” she appealed to him in a Facebook post, “di po biro ang effort ng buong MMFF team na alisin ang divide between indie and mainstream movies. In fact, sana po, National Film Festival na ang MMMF next year para di maiwan ang mga probinsya. Ang love po minumultiply, hindi dinidivide! Kindly rethink your move! Please! At salamat sa pakikinig!”


In early November, Sotto criticized the MMFF for bending its own rule of accepting only finished films when it accommodated “picture-locked” entries, meaning films that had not finished post-production.


He was reportedly pacified when it was explained to him that those submissions came with a huge disadvantage.


Preparations under way for Miss Universe pageant

Published in Latest News



(Photo from


Preparations, physical and security, have started for the Miss Universe pageant to be held at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City on January 30, 2017 as the event has secured global time slot that is expected to reach over 100 million people.


The pageant’s coronation night will be aired live at the Mall of Asia from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to all television networks.


Organizers said the Mall of Asia will be transformed into a virtual Miss Universe village as it will host a range of activities that will culminate in the Coronation Night where a new Miss Universe queen will be crowned. Reigning queen Pia Wurtzbach will transfer the crown to her successor infront of fellow Filipinos.


Before Wurtzbach, Gloria Diaz won the Miss Universe crown in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.


Candidates from about 100 countries are set to arrive in the country as early as December for the pre-pageant activities like visits and photo shoots in top Philippine destinations like Davao City, Legaspi City, Cebu City and Vigan City. Also included in these events are Baguio City, Palawan, Tacloban City and Iloilo City.


Edgar Tejerero, president of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. (SMLEI), one of the partners of the Department of Tourism in bringing the prestigious event to the country, said they are “glad to bring one of the world’s most sought-after events closer to the Filipinos.”


The Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena will be the venue for the Governor’s Ball, National Gift Auction, National Costume, the Fashion Show, the Designer Showcase and After Party, among others.


The activities will lead up to the much-awaited Coronation Night on Jan. 30 at the MOA Arena where everyone will witness a rare display of beauty, talent and wit, all within an arm’s reach.


Arnel Gonzales, assistant vice president for the MOA Arena, said the Arena was chosen for the Miss Universe pageant because of its experience in hosting many events that have showcased the country globally.


The venue has hosted some of the world’s biggest international events, such as the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the Papal Visit, as well as such entertainment acts as Madonna, WWE Live, and Cirque du Soleil.


The Depart of Tourism, SMLEI together with the Miss Universe Organization (MUO), LCS Holdings of former Ilocos Sur governor Luis Chavit Singson, Okada Manila and Solar Entertainment Inc. have officially signed the agreement to bring the pageant to the country.


The tourism department has said that the government would not be spending for the event, as the expenses would be shouldered by partners from the private sector.


The production costs of the pageant are estimated to run into US$11 million to US$15 million.


Speaking for Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Undersecretary for Media Affairs Kat De Castro said that an inter-agency task force composed of the DOT, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of Finance (DOF) has been formed to make sure the staging of the pageant runs smoothly.


She said that the DOTr and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have been tasked to make sure that traffic is kept at the minimum during the pageant.


“One of the orders of President (Rodrigo) Duterte is when we do the final show, people will not experience traffic because it’s happening on a Monday morning,” de Castro said.


Last Nov. 16, major partners signed an agreement to secure the Philippine hosting of the pageant in the Philippines.

Miss Universe Organization vice president for business development Shawn McClain said the hosting of the pageant will help boost the country’s tourism. 

The Miss Universe Organization wants to host the pageant in Manila again for its “energetic” and “engaged” fan base, he added.

“The energy and the passion of the Filipino people is really powerful. This is a special place especially for the Miss Universe organization and the brand because it’s so popular here. There’s an energetic and engaged fan based and we couldn’t be happier to announce that the next Miss Universe pageant is going to happen here in Manila in January,” said McClain.

Ninety contestants from around the world are will vie for the coveted crown before an expected live audience of 15,000.

“We’ll be showing the world what the Philippines has to offer,” McClain said. “The Philippine government is not spending a single cent. It’s all private sector.”

Luis “Chavit” Singson, LCS Holdings president, said “Not only will this event bring joy to Filipinos with its pageantry, but it is expected to deliver incredible economic benefits through tourism as we are given a platform to showcase our local attractions before half a billion Miss Universe fans worldwide.”


The Philippines has already hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice, in 1974 at the Folk Art Theater and in 1994 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Duterte lifts truce with Reds but open to talks

Published in Headline

(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)


MANILA ― Peeved by an attack by New People's Army (NPA) rebels on militiamen in which one was killed in Davao del Norte, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the immediate lifting of the unilateral ceasefire against the communist rebels.


“I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land,” the President said last week.


The Chief Executive later said this week he was open to talks with the communist groups even the government peace panel readied to fly again to Oslo to begin their talks with the the CPP-NPA-NDF peace panels. 


President Duterte declared unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) during his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last July 25 in line with achieving the government’s goal of final and lasting peace.


But the Chief Executive announced the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire that he ordered after the 5 p.m.Saturday ultimatum he gave lapsed without reciprocation from the communist rebels.


“Correspondingly, I am ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration,” President Duterte said.


In Davao City, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza announced the lifting of ceasefire declaration by President Duterte at 7 p.m Saturday.


Dureza said there is no supervening factor that will affect the resumption of the formal peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on August 20 in Oslo, Norway.


Duterte admitted on Monday that the road to peace is always a rocky road but still hoping his administration could talk again with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).


”There is no negotiation that comes easy to us especially given the turmoil of our country. We are hoping that we could just talk, maybe we did not understand each other,” the President said during the mass oath-taking of his appointees in Malacanang.


”The best way is really is to talk again and find out whether it is reachable or beyond our reach,” President Duterte said.


”I hope that we can proceed with the talks the Communist Party of the Philippines and I’ll be spending about 10 days after tomorrow,” he added.


The President said he will also address the problem in Mindanao, particularly the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).


President Duterte clarified that he will not talk with the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group.


”I will not deal with criminals. I will not deal with persons of extreme brutality. There is no redeeming factor or reason for me to sit down and talk with criminals. Pareho lang rin ýan sa droga. They’re out to just derail the life of a nation,” President Duterte said.


He said the Abu Sayyaf bandits have no ideology unlike the CPP-NPA-NDF and the MILF and MNLF.


The President said he give everybody a safe conduct pass once the peace talks start with the communist and the Moro rebels.


”My desire is just to see my nation at peace and for everybody in this generation before I make my exit that we will leave in peace and leave a country that is prosperous for the next generation,” he added.


President Duterte refused to react on the criticisms of communist leader Jose Maria Sison that the President was hasty to lift the ceasefire.


”Hindi ko papatulan iyan eh. I am not an ideological poltergeist. I am the President talking properly to you to have peace in this land. Bakit man ako --- hindi naman ako insecure,” the President said.


The President said his administration will pursue the peace talks with the communist rebels set on August 20 to 27 in Oslo, Norway.


”I cannot stop talking about peace. I am a President who is supposed to bring peace to his land. Whether it’s really Sison or not, whether I’d like to talk to Sison or not, it’s not important, it’s not relevant at all. The issue is, the left, not only Sison, but that includes Sison, the left, the entire leftist community or bloc dito sa atin. We cannot agree on all of these things. Merong right, left, center,” President said.


”Me, at this time, I just believe that I have to look for that peace for my land during my generation. If I fail, mahirap na, including Mindanao,” he added.


”Let’s wait and see. But so far, as the moment, there is no supervening factor that will affect the upcoming talks in Oslo on August 20,” Dureza said


The President also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration.


The AFP said it remains duty bound to comply with any orders issued by the Chief Executive regarding this development.


"The AFP will abide by the ensuing orders of the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte following this development," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.


PNP Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa  said the PNP will follow.


"The PNP will follow the instructions of Commander-in-Chief," Dela Rosa said


"I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land," the President said.


The lifting came after the National Democratic Front (NDF) failed to reciprocate the ceasefire declaration of the President for the 5 p.m deadline.


Although at 6:30 p.m the NDF said it would reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire but had asked for time to finish its investigation on the attack of the Army's militiamen last Wednesday.


This was confirmed by GPH Peace panel chair Silvestre Bello Saturday evening as the 5 p.m deadline lapsed for the communist movement to reciprocate ceasefire.


"Please give us time to finish our investigation of the incident as reported by concerned NPA command," Bello quoted NDF spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili.


Bello said that in a conversation with Agcaoili, the CPP would reciprocate the President's ceasefire declaration.


Peace advocates in Central Luzon have expressed support to the order of President Duterte for the immediate lifting of his declaration of unilateral ceasefire against communist rebels.


Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, lead organizer of Yes for Peace, said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA )should have reciprocated the sincerity of President Duterte when he declared the imposition of a unilateral ceasefire between government forces and communist guerrillas.


"What is the NPA trying to prove? Are they telling us that they can attack government soldiers at will and get away with it? Or are they telling us that they reject President Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire?”


Alcanzare said that the recent attacks on government soldiers drew strong reactions from other sectors who are supporting the peace initiatives of President Duterte.


"Even their leaders wants peace. Everybody should do their share and work for the achievement of genuine and long lasting peace.We are all Filipinos, let’s all help end war in our country,” he said.


Alcanzare said that lawyer Domingo B. Alidon, president of the 20,000 strong Department of Education National Employees Union and long-time member of the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group of Yes for Peace has asked him: “Whose rights are the NPA really fighting for? The Filipino people’s rights or their right to bear arms against a duly elected government?”


Mama S. Lalanto, al Haj, adviser of Yes for Peace and a a member of the board of directors of the Philippine Postal Corporation, said that “based on emailed reports received from December 2015 to April 2016, 98.62% agreed that the internal armed conflicts between the government and all armed groups must stop; 98.22% believe that peace talks must be held here in the country; and 99.34% are willing to help in the implementation of all peace agreements.”


Duterte on Friday gave the CPP-NDF an ultimatum to also declare a truce after a rebel attack on militiamen on Wednesday, two days following the Chief Executive's pronouncement of a unilateral ceasefire.


He gave the ultimatum during his visit at the 60th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Doña Andrea, Asuncion to visit the wake of the militiaman slain in the ambush by NPA in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

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