Saturday, November 24, 2012

Morong 43 health workers on the hunt for former defense sec, military camp warden

Original Post: Morong 43 health workers on the hunt for former defense sec, military camp warden

Hide and seek with the military and police, as Court affirms GMA still in suit

Morong 43 health workers on the hunt for former defense sec, military camp warden

Nagtatago o itinatago?”

The counsels of the Morong 43 health workers today challenged President Noynoy Aquino and Armed Forces chief Jessie Dellosa to disclose the latest address of former Defense Secretary Norberto B. Gonzales and Camp Capinpin warden Manuel Tabion, in a show of good faith and in a bid for accountability.

If this administration says it is sincere in seeking justice for victims of human rights violations, then it should help us in the proper administration of law. Otherwise, it may be fated to follow in the footsteps of the Arroyo administration – to make the same mistakes and find itself hauled before the courts as well,” said Atty. Ephraim Cortez, handling lawyer from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

The Morong 43 are suing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other top officials for P15 million worth of damages over the workers’ illegal arrest and detention through eight months in 2010. Gonzales and Tabion have not replied to any communication from the court, meaning the justice system cannot proceed as to claims against them.

Six health workers, led by Dr. Merry Mia Clamor and Dr. Alexis Montes, today asked the court’s permission to send the summons for the “missing” two to be published instead of handed over personally. The Office of the Provost Marshall of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Directorate for Personnel of the Philippine National Police have declared that they have no forwarding address for either, and refused to accept correspondences.

We are forced to resort to summons by publication because we cannot locate the two defendants. To date, Gonzales and Tabion have refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the court, and the military establishment has refused to provide assistance to our clients to ascertain their whereabouts,” said Atty. Cortez.

Gonzales is the former Defense Secretary who is being sued for his acquiesence, if not active involvement in the illegal arrest and detention of the health workers over eight months in 2010. Tabion was the commanding officer and warden of the Army’s Camp Capinpin, and accused of leading the physical and psychological torture on members of the group.

Branding the Army’s stance ludicrous, the NUPL scored the obvious refusal to cooperate especially since Tabion is reportedly still in active service. “The military and police want us to believe that they have no access to or contact with them. It’s either they are incompetent at keeping tabs on their people, or they are trying to hide them from us. Maybe they are all cavorting together someplace with former Gen. Palparan, Col. Oscar Legaspi, and the like,” said Atty. Cortez. The group alluded to two other top-ranked military officials wanted for the abduction of two UP students, and the murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia, respectively, who have been both at large for several years.

On the other hand, Arroyo and retired generals Victor Ibrado and Delfin Bangit have actively participated in the civil case. They have repeatedly asked the suit be dismissed, citing their personal non-involvement in the arrest, detention and torture of the Morong 43. Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96 Judge Afable Cajigal today junked their petitions for dismissal again and ordered the case to proceed.

The multi-million damage suit was filed in April by Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Dr. Alexis Montes, nurse Gary Liberal, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, Reynaldo Macabenta and Mercy Castro. It is anchored on four causes of action: the illegal arrest, detention, and other violations of their constitutional rights; the alleged physical, verbal and psychological abuses; and the divesting of the plaintiffs’ personal belongings.

The separate criminal case filed against Arroyo’s top military officials, filed May earlier this year, is still pending before the Ombudsman.

Reference:
Atty. Ephraim Cortez,
NUPL Assistant Secretary General for Legal Services
09175465798

Court denies CGMA Motion for Reconsideration on Morong 43 case

A small victory for the Morong 43 and all victims of human rights abuses under the Arroyo presidency.

This was how Dr. Alex S. Montes, member of the Morong 43 and one of the named plaintiffs in the 15-million civil suit filed against Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et. al accepted today’s decision of Presiding Judge Afable E. Cajigal of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96.

Cited under Civil Case No. Q-11-69171, the judge found that the said Motion for Reconsideration filed by CGMA, et. al were “reiterations and mere rehash of the grounds relied upon in the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.” The order explained that the Motion to Dismiss was “exhaustively passed upon” by the previous court Branch 226 of the QC RTC, then presided by Judge Ma. Luisa Padilla who proceeded to assume a post in the Court of Appeals.

Hence, Judge Cajigal in his decision, found no “cogent reason to depart from the previous ruling of Branch 226” and ordered that the “instant motion is hereby DENIED.”

We are elated that the court found the basis of our arguments valid and that Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts have an equal peg in terms of accountability for the human rights abuses we underwent in the hands of our captors,” Dr. Montes said.

He added that today’s decision only proves that no head of state or top military and police official can get away with what their minions on the ground do to innocent civilians. At the end of the day, command responsibility and state policies still govern the actions of the military and police institutions.

We remain resolute to push on with this case until we claim justice for ourselves and all victims of human rights abuses,” added Dr. Montes.

The pre-trial was reset to January 31, 2013.

Reference:

Dr. Alex S. Montes
0927-9259413 | 929-8109

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Friday, November 23, 2012

SUPPORTERS OF THE MORONG 43 GATHER AT THE QUEZON CITY HALL OF JUSTICE


(Photos by:Ruth Bautista/Council for Health and Development)

Some 55 Community Health Workers held a program outside the QC Hall of Justice to express their support For the Morong 43.

Morong 43 vs GMA et. al pre-trial set today

Convict GMA, et. al for their human rights abuses!

This is the battle cry of the Morong 43 in their pre-trial today at Branch 96 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. The group called for Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top military and police officials’ conviction on the rights abuses they committed against the health workers in 2010.

We want GMA and her cohorts to pay for their human rights abuses,” said Dr. Alex Montes, one of the Morong 43 and plaintiffs in the P15 million civil suit against the former president.

The other defendants are former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, former Army chief Maj. Gen. Delfin Bangit and former 2nd Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia. Also included are Lt. Col. Cristobal Zaragosa, Maj. Manuel Tabion, Col. Aurelio Baladlad, Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag and Supt. Marion Balolong and Supt. Allan Nubleza -- all based in Camp Capinpin at the time the civil suit was filed in April 2011.

Dr. Montes recalled that today is also the third anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre and their second year of seeking justice for their plight. He furthered that the Aquino administration has “indeed fallen short on its promise of daang matuwid” because the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly and human rights violators like the Ampatuans and GMA are still not convicted.

Reference:

Dr. Alex S. Montes
0927-9259413 | 929-8109

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations! Alliance launched

The Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for all victims of human rights violations! Alliance was launched yesterday, September 26, at the Lung Center of the Philippines. The formation is both a campaign call and name of the alliance. The Alliance is composed of different organizations from the health sector, human rights advocates, communities, academe and individuals who commits to play vital roles in ensuring that the campaign for justice shall continue to be taken upon. It hopes to be a contributing force in making the wheels of justice turn in favor not only for the Morong 43 but to all victims of human rights violations.

The event was graced by more than a hundred people from different sectors.

The release of the Morong 43 on December 17, 2010 after ten months of illegal detention is a victory celebrated by both national and international communities. The Morong 43's release was a fruit of the people's struggle. They were freed not only by the intense legal battles but by a combination of numerous mass campaigns, in all conceivable forms, waged here and abroad by different organizations as well as individual advocates.

Seeking justice for the ordeal they have gone through, some members of the Morong 43 filed civil and criminal cases against the personalities involved and responsible for their illegal arrest, detention, and torture. However, their captors, torturers, and the masterminds of the crimes against their human rights are still in power and with authority. Some are even up for promotion and received medals during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency. Mrs. Arroyo is now Pampanga's representative in the Congress. They are still in active service in the government and continue to perpetrate further human rights violations against activists and other humanitarian workers.

To this day, cases that have been filed with the Supreme Court, Commission on Human Rights, and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court still await resolution after more than a year.

Moreover, harassments, intimidations and threats against Community Health Workers as well as health and other humanitarian workers continue in the country. The military and their agents never ceased to sow terror among the people and tag activists and health workers as communists or terrorists.

Hence, the Morong 43's struggle must continue not only for their own quest for justice but for all the victims of human rights violations as well.

What does the Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for all victims of human rights violations! Alliance intend to do?
  • To serve as a rallying organization of all health professionals, health workers, and communities in asserting their right to health;
  • To ensure a continuing campaign for justice through various activities, mobilizations especially on highlighted dates;
  • To generate the widest possible support for the campaign and the alliance from organizations and individuals here and abroad;
  • To generate continuing public awareness on human rights and justice through media events, press releases, and information education materials.
The formation of the Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations! Alliance will serve as a reminder that the Morong 43’s continuing struggle for justice is a collective call and effort of the people to end impunity and punish all human rights violators.##

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morong 43 dismayed over Commission on Appointment’s decision to promote Gen. Segovia

Members of the Morong 43 were dismayed over the Court of Appeals’ (CoA) ruling to promote Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia to the grade of Major General today despite strong opposition from the Morong 43 health workers, health NGO Council for Health and Development (CHD) and human rights group Karapatan.

Although we did not have high expectations, we were still hoping that the Court of Appeals will give weight to our opposition because of the grave human rights violations we experienced in the hands of the military unit that Gen. Segovia led. But we were dismayed after finding out that the ‘deliberation’ the CoA called us in for was in fact a mere presentation of our opposition which obviously did not warrant any level of consideration from the CoA members who attended the meeting,” Dr. Alex Montes, one of the Morong 43 said.

Dr. Montes cited pending cases filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, the complaint for torture, Violation of Republic Act 7438 (Rights of Persons Arrested, etc.), and more recently, a criminal complaint filed by several members of the Morong 43 before the Department of Justice on Violation of the Anti-Torture Law, Violation of Republic Act 7610 and Robbery and had Gen. Segovia and Col. Aurelio Baladad as among the respondents as solid reasons why General Segovia should not be promoted.

The acts of torture were committed with the knowledge, acquiescence, tolerance, sanction, approval, and/or even upon the orders of Gen. Segovia, as then commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Gen. Segovia had publicly defended and justified his and his officers’ treatment of the Morong 43,” the doctors’ complaint read.

Upon the arrest of the Morong 43 on February 6, 2010, the arresting officers from the 202nd Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Aurelio Baladad which is under the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army headed by Gen. Segovia, together with members of the Rizal Police Provincial Office, deliberately failed to apprise the Morong 43 of their right to remain silent and their right to consult a lawyer of their own choice.

Before they were boarded into different vehicles, the arresting officers under the command and supervision of Col. Baladad, blindfolded the members of the Morong 43 and had their hands tied at their back. The blindfolds and handcuffs were kept for 36 hours straight. During this time and up to May 1, 2010 when they were transferred to Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Taguig, the Morong 43 were subjected to different forms of torture.

During the first few days of detention at Camp Capinpin, the Morong 43 were deprived of their right to be visited by their immediate relatives, to consult with their lawyers, and they were not given the opportunity to communicate with them.

Under RA 9745 or the “Anti-Torture Law,” Gen. Segovia is liable as the immediate commanding officer of the above-stated military unit. By his own act, omission or negligence, it led, assisted, abetted or allowed, directly or indirectly, in the commission of the acts of torture.

The Commission on Appointment asserted that its job is to determine whether an officer is “fit and qualified” for the appointment, hence, its members moved for the acceptance of the appointment of Gen. Segovia. Dr. Eleanor Jara, executive director of CHD argued that an officer should not be deemed “fit and qualified” for an appointment if his records show that he was a consenting body to the torture and human rights violation of 43 health workers. Pending cases against Segovia clearly show that he is a man of questionable integrity and does not deserve a promotion, Dr. Jara furthered.

However disappointing the CoA’s decision on the promotion of a torturer and human rights violator such as Gen. Segovia turned out to be, our groups and supporters will never give up in pursuing justice for the Morong 43 and all victims of human rights violations. We will make sure that all those who committed the crimes against us will be punished under the law – including Gen. Segovia,” Dr. Montes said.##

References:
Dr. Alex S. Montes and Dr. Eleanor A. Jara
0927-9259413 | 929-8109

Morong 43 to Commission on Appointments: No Promotion and appointment for torturers and human rights violators!

A Morong 43 doctor and the group that sponsored the First Responders’ Health Skills Training in Morong in 2010 will appear before the Commission on Appointments today to oppose the promotion of Lt. Gen. (now Maj. Gen.) Jorge Segovia because of pending cases filed by members of the Morong 43 for violation of their Constitutional rights as well as violations of several special penal laws.

In their complaints, Dr. Alex Montes one of the volunteer doctors in the 2010 Morong training and Dr. Eleanor Jara, executive director of Council for Health and Development (CHD) cited pending cases filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, the complaint for torture, Violation of Republic Act 7438 (Rights of Persons Arrested, etc.), and more recently, a criminal complaint filed by several members of the Morong 43 before the Department of Justice on Violation of the Anti-Torture Law, Violation of Republic Act 7610 and Robbery and had Lt. Gen. Segovia and Col. Aurelio Baladad as among the respondents.

The acts of torture were committed with the knowledge, acquiescence, tolerance, sanction, approval, and/or even upon the orders of Gen. Segovia, as then commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Gen. Segovia had publicly defended and justified his and his officers’ treatment of the Morong 43,” the complaint further read. Upon the arrest of the Morong 43 on February 6, 2010, the arresting officers from the 202nd Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Aurelio Baladad which is under the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army headed by Gen. Segovia, together with members of the Rizal Police Provincial Office, deliberately failed to apprise the Morong 43 of their right to remain silent and their right to consult a lawyer of their own choice.

Before they were boarded into different vehicles, the arresting officers under the command and supervision of Col. Baladad, blindfolded the members of the Morong 43 and had their hands tied at their back. The blindfolds and handcuffs were kept for 36 hours straight. During this time and up to May 1, 2010 when they were transferred to Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Taguig, the Morong 43 were subjected to different forms of torture.

During the first few days of detention at Camp Capinpin, the Morong 43 were deprived of their right to be visited by their immediate relatives, to consult with their lawyers, and they were not given the opportunity to communicate with them.

Under RA 9745 or the “Anti-Torture Law,” Gen. Segovia is liable as the immediate commanding officer of the above-stated military unit. By his own act, omission or negligence, it led, assisted, abetted or allowed, directly or indirectly, in the commission of the acts of torture.

On the basis of our sworn affidavits and existing laws that uphold human rights, we urge the Commission on Appointments not to confirm/reject the promotion/appointment of Gen. Segovia,” Dr. Montes said.##

Friday, July 6, 2012

Justice for the Morong 43!

After more than a year of filing a civil suit against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the first ever legal case filed against her after she stepped down from being the country’s chief executive, and Armed Forces of the Philippines’ high officials, the first hearing is finally held today in the office of Judge Ma. Luisa Padilla of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 226.

“We are somehow relieved that the case is finally moving in the court. This is a step towards attaining justice,” nurse Gary Liberal said.

Regardless of what Arroyo and her camp does to deny their accountability for the illegal detention and torture of the 43 health workers in 2010 such as filing a motion to dismiss, Liberal and his group believes that the court will continue to exercise prudence in any decision it will make. Early this June, Judge Padilla denied Arroyo’s, former AFP Chief of Staff Victor Ibrado and Gen. Delfin Bangit’s motion to dismiss stating “the court does not find any merit on Arroyo’s argument” and that the court shall wait for the presentation of evidence before deciding if Ibrado and Bangit should or should not be named as defendants in the case.

Out of desperation if not simple fib, Liberal revealed that the Philippine National Police Directorate for Personnel Services went as far as claiming that P/Supts. Marion Balonglong and Allan Nubleza are in their roster while the address indicated in their answers filed in court were addressed to Camp Crame. Liberal said that deception has become an institutional practice in this government.

In the light of continuing attacks against health and development workers, as in the recent murder of Willem Geertman, executive director of Pampanga-based Alay Bayan, Inc., Justice for the 43 Health Workers! Alliance will continue to fight for justice until all state-backed human rights violators are punished under the law. The Alliance also calls for continued public and media vigilance on their case.##
Reference:
Gary Liberal, R.N.
0922)575-1689
Spokesperson

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Friday, May 4, 2012

On Denying Involvement in Morong 43 Involvement :“See you in Court!”, Morong 43 members tells GMA

“See you then in court!” is the quick reaction of Gary Liberal, spokesperson of the Morong 43 about the statement of Gloria Macapagal-Arrroyo, through her spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn that she had nothing to do with the Morong 43 case.

“GMA can deny her involvement all she wants of how we 43 health workers were illegally arrested, detained for one year, physically and mentally tortured during our incarceration. But the fact remains that GMA as Commander-in-Chief did not lift a finger to correct and act decisively on the wrongdoings, on the serious human rights violations committed against us by the military and police officers under her command,” furthered Liberal.

Up until GMA’s end of term in June 2010, Liberal shared that the their families and friends, the Morong 43 and other local and international networks have sought dialogues, made representations, written appeals and petitions to GMA to act on their illegal arrest and detention as well as to press for their immediate release. But all these efforts, Liberal said, “fell on deaf ears”.

“As Commander-in-Chief, GMA possessed control over the military. She cannot get away with the inhumane acts that her administration committed and tolerated. She must assume responsibility and made to account for the eleven months we Morong 43 were made to suffer and for all the other gross human rights violations committed under her leadership,” concluded Liberal.

Reference:
Mr. Gary Liberal
Spokesperson, Group of Morong 43 Complainants
Mobile number: 0922-5751689

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Morong 43 Files Criminal Raps Versus GMA, Military and PNP Officials

Saying they have “grown tired of the Aquino administration’s inaction in going after human rights violators”, several members of the Morong 43 today filed before the Department of Justice a criminal complaint against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several military and police officials

The criminal complaint – the first criminal complaint involving human rights violations against the former president - for torture, violation of Republic Act 7438 (An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation) and robbery was filed by Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Dr. Alexis Montes, Gary Liberal- a registered nurse, Maria Teresa Quinawayan – a registered midwife, and community health workers Mercy Castro, Reynaldo Macabenta, Jane Balleta and Samson Castillo.

Among those charged with Arroyo are recently promoted military officials Lt. Gen. (now Major General) Jorge Segovia, Col. (now a brigadier general) Aurelio Baladad and Lt. Col. (now Colonel) Cristobal Zaragosa,

According to Liberal, spokesperson of the complainants, the recent promotion of Gen. Segovia, Col. Baladad and Col. Zaragosa “was the last straw” that prompted them to file the criminal complaint. “President Aquino himself, when he ordered our release in 2010, acknowledged that we were denied due process. More than a year has passed, not only has he done nothing to investigate the military officials involved, he even promoted them”, lamented Liberal. “Sobra na! Tama na!”

The complaint contained the individual accounts of torture of the complainants which include blindfolding for a prolonged period of time, physical and verbal abuse, threats against their person and their families, humiliating treatment and other forms of psychological torture.

Gen. Segovia was named respondent for being the immediate commanding officer of the military unit/s or personnel involved making him liable under the Anti-Torture Law. Respondent Col. Zaragosa, whose promotion was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments last February 23, 2012, together with another respondent Maj. Manuel Tabion, were identified in the complaint as those who directly supervised and participated in the torture of the complainants.

Former president Arroyo, former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado and former Army Chief Gen. Delfin Bangit were named respondents under the principle of command responsibility.

Also named respondents are Col. Joey Reyes , PNP officials P/Supt. Marion Balonglong, P/Supt. Allan Nobleza. Also included are the Morong 43’s military custodians at Camp Capinpin namely: Lt. Jovilee Cabading, a military officer who introduced himself as Vicente Lopez, and several military personnel known only as Bulaklak, Caloagan, Cea and Idloy. #

Reference:
Gary Liberal
Spokesperson
0922 - 5751689

Carlos Montemayor, Jr.
Free the 43 Alliance
0923 - 2228285

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lawyers of Morong 43 decry cover-up by military, police

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Lawyers of health workers who filed a damage suit against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several military and police officials lambasted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) for withholding information about the respondents.

The P15-million ($365 thousand) damage suit was filed, on April 4, 2011, by six of the 43 health workers, also called Morong 43. The Morong 43 were arrested on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were subjected to various forms of torture. However, months after summons have been issued by a Quezon City Regional Trial Court, several of the military and police respondents have not yet been notified of the charges.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), counsel for the complainants, asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Brig. Gen. Herbert Yambing of the Office of the Provost Marshall General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to locate and provide information on the “missing” respondents but both offices refused to provide any information.

Addressed at their last known assignments, the summons against Gen. Jorge Segovia, Lt. Col. Cristobal Zaragosa, Col. Aurelio Baladad, Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, Maj. Manuel Tabion and P/Supt. Marion Balonglong were returned unserved because they were no longer assigned there. The summons to the respondents, in what is considered the first civil case for human rights violations against former president Gloria Arroyo and her security forces, were issued last November 28, 2011.

In a letter sent to the NUPL, Yambing declined to give information on the whereabouts of the military personnel purportedly because his office has “no direct knowledge” on the whereabouts of the military officers and that he supposedly has no authority to release such information. On the other hand, the PNP, through Records Management Division Chief Manuel Gaerlan, CEO VI, said in its reply that the names of Balolong and Nubleza, who have been publicly known to be part of the service, strangely do not appear in the roster of the PNP.

This is tantamount to a cover-up of the military and the police for their peers whose accountability is being sought for their involvement in brazenly violating the rights of the Morong 43 health workers,” said Ephraim Cortez, NUPL assistant secretary for legal services.

With their cynical unwillingness to cooperate, state security forces have put up another roadblock to justice that effectively frustrates efforts to seek accountability for human rights violations committed against the Morong 43 health workers,” said Cortez. “Either they are deliberately hiding information about those involved or they are giving us a run-around through technicalities in disclosing very simple standard details about their personnel for the purpose of serving summons, or both.”

Aside from Segovia, Zaragosa, Baladad, Abawag, Tabion, Balonglong and former president Arroyo, the other respondents in the case are former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Gen. Victor Ibrado, and Gen. Delfin Bangit.

Arroyo, Bangit and Ibrado filed separate motions to dismiss the case. The NUPL already filed its reply to the motions. The court has yet to issue a resolution.

This obstructionist attitude demonstrates the manifest bias of the military and the police in favour of those from their ranks who commit rights violations,” Cortez said.

It shows once again how hard and sometimes frustrating it is to pursue justice for human rights violations under the present legal and judicial system and how impunity is perpetrated before, during and after a violation,” NUPL secretary general Edre U. Olalia said. “But we shall not let up. They cannot just get away with it just like that.
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