Posts Tagged ‘Campus Press Freedom Violations’

Support Statement for PNU’s The Torch: Kung ayaw niyong matulog, kayo ay magpatulog; kung wala na kayong makain, magpoprotesta rin kayo

Here goes again the status quo, menacing those who seek to usher in an alternative order of things. Always this resort to desperate measures, always this resort to desperate measures.

The Torch, the official publication of the Philippine Normal University-Manila is currently under the attack of an individual supposedly part of one political organization in PNU, the Student Union and Leadership Onwards (SULO). The most glaring of this individual’s accusations on The Torch is that the student publication “uses the funds of the students to propagate the ideologies of their communist-led party-list groups.”

The Torch, a student publication that recently marked its 100th year of existence, already provided a substantive response to these accusations by Nadora.

There are other issues though that this event has opened up. Even prior this event, a lot of other progressive organizations, campus publications included, has been red-tagged (read: labeled as ‘communists’) systematically under the Oplan Bayanihan policy of Pnoy which works to repress critical elements in the society since being tagged as a ‘communist,’ as an ‘enemy of the state’ makes an individual or organization a justified target of various forms of human rights violations, the most extreme form of which is political killing. This policy embodies a bloodier version of how Zizek described the response of the powers-that-be to the people’s ‘hysterical’ cries, if not recurring complaints: “Say it in my terms or shut up!” What is at work in Oplan Bayanihan is less accommodating, less pretentious: “Do not say anything against me or I will execute you!” Such is the evil of Oplan Bayanihan. You can only relish democracy if you are in agreement with the status quo. If you are critical, democracy cannot be for you.

Going back to the case of The Torch, what is interesting here is that instead of the government using a more systematic approach, we have here an individual, a representative of a certain political organization red-tagging by her lonesome a student publication that has been existing for over a century, a publication whose enduring existence must be enough to speak for its credibility and relevance. At this point, we should ask, what could be the motive of this individual in making such accusations? While the government’s Oplan Bayanihan exhibits their intolerance of contrary elements in their beloved status quo, what then is this individual trying to accomplish in her tirade?

In their position paper regarding this matter, The Torch Publication made a suggestion already:  “But never has it been aggressively brought in the middle of a political arena to be a subject of vilification and defamatory statements.” To contextualized, it is during the heat of the Student Council Elections in PNU when Nadora blurted out her concerns about The Torch. Moreover, as abovementioned, Nadora is part of the SULO Party, one of the political parties vying for seats in the PNU Student Council. But this is not all. In her Facebook, Nadora calls on Akbayan personality Risa Hontiveros “kasama,” and hence, making clear the political affiliation of the former.

How then should we approach this matter: Red-tagging being committed not by the government but some other elements. Notably, UP Baguio Outcrop, another student publication also experienced such red-tagging. During their exhibit during the Human Rights celebration last December where they featured stills from the Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket to express their opposition to the ROTC program revived in UP Baguio, they set up a feedback area where students can pitch in their comments and reactions. One comment in the feedback tagged the Outcrop as “commies,” a cuter term for ‘communists.’ The speculation is that this comment was made by one of the ROTC people.

This is where we can bring in the idea of class analysis, one of the esteemed interpretive lenses provided by Marxist criticism. The “class” in this class analysis is not only constituted by one’s role in the economic production of a society, it is also determined, and this one is often overlooked, by one’s position with regards to the status quo: that is, if one is in favor of or against it.

Coming from this, things can have more lucid sense: The SULO party to which Nadora belongs seems to be affiliated with the Akbayan partylist, one of the more obvious underlings of the Pnoy regime. It is therefore hypocritical to accuse one of “propagating the ideologies” of certain partylists when one is also involved in such act. And as if there is someone or something outside ideology today. From the food we eat, the movies we watch, the things we do in our lives are all in a way, influenced by ideology. Having enjoyed a certain political advantage because of their relationship to the current regime, the SULO Party and the bigger Akbayan bloc to which it is part of can be said to be reactionary; that is, preservative, if not protective of the status quo.

In the case of UP Baguio Outcrop, the accusations are supposedly hurled upon them by members of the ROTC people which as such expectedly carries with them the ideology of the status quo. Their interest, as ‘reserves’ of the Philippines Army is to protect the government by monitoring the activities of the ‘enemy,’ if not outwardly suppressing such activities.

These two parties – the SULO Party representative of the Akbayan bloc and the ROTC people – are banking on the dominant conception of “communism,” “being red” in flinging these “negative” attributes to the student publications they attack. In the current scheme of things, these ideas have resonated in a bad light precisely because these are ideas that threaten the status quo. Again, this only confirms that both the SULO Party and the ROTC people are in favor of the status quo.

But there is nothing wrong to believe in communism, we say. There is nothing wrong to believe in, and more vitally, to work for a state of things different from the current one – an alternative state of things where there is equality and justice for everyone, where everyone can go to school, where everyone can get proper medication when they are ill, and where everyone can have an occupation to feed herself and her family and more importantly, to harness and hone her talents and skills.

Before the gay rights movement, the homosexuals cowered in calling themselves out, in asserting their (homosexual) identity. They were being derogated as “queer.” But then they started to appropriate this very term used to denigrate them and collectively, they huddled under this term, queer, and used it as a counterattack, a statement of pride and ownership. By doing that, they only proved that there is nothing wrong with being queer, with being homosexual. This is also the challenge for those who fight against the current, oppressive system. They must “struggle over the sign,” as Bakhtin puts it. They must embrace these terms thrown at them: “activist,” “enemy of the state,” “leftist” and infuse them with a new meaning, change them from demonizing to proactive ones.

Lastly, if one thinks this is youthful idealism talking once again, we say: what is wrong with such idealism? In “The Affirmative Character of Culture,” Marcuse invokes Hegel’s protest against the “degradation of the idea” against “playing officiously with the mind as though it were an object that has nothing to do with human history.” Hegel protests against this severing of the idea from material existence, for such move eliminates the potential to think beyond the system, to think and imagine an alternative better than the current one. But certainly to imagine a better alternative is easier than actually working to birth that alternative. Maybe this is why there is this infectious repulsion on “going against the system.” Raymond Williams says it well, an alternative will not be simpler than the current one, “imagine daily life and the organization of a society wherein human beings are fully in control of their own destinies, makes demands on the mind which are forbiddingly difficulty for subjects of the present ‘administered world’.”

Maybe the current system has become too comforting to most of us and so it is hard to imagine “a better one.” But as in the idea behind “Kung ayaw niyong matulog, kayo ay magpatulog,” nothing can stop the activists, the leftists, the ‘enemies of the state,’ especially not those who refuse to join them in their cause, from crying foul over a system that continues to impoverish and oppress the Filipino people. The same way as “Kapag inantok kayo, matutulog rin kayo,” we say here: “Kapag nagugutom na kayo at ang pamilya niyo at hindi nyo na mapagkasya ang kakarampot niyong sweldo sa pag-ko-call center o kung anuman sa pag-aasam nyo ng mga latest na gadgets, magpoprotesta rin kayo sa sistemang ito.”


Outside Kafka dwells the collective resistance of the people: a statement against the harassment of student leaders and campus press freedom violations

One day in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Joseph K. woke up just to find out that he was under arrest for a crime he – and even his arresters! – could not identify. Outside the Kafkaesque world where the bizarre is rational and the rational unusual, violations of rights are being committed but accusing fingers are being vehemently directed and names are being explicitly called. Just as the rights violators are direct in taking charge of the “criminals;” the “criminals,” unlike Kafka’s Joseph K. are unflinching in condemning such malicious accusations from their tormentors.

It was January 18 when Marben Panlasigui, Governor of the Student Council School of Humanities (SoH), was harassed by SoH Dean Lilian Gandeza. As reported in this statement by Anakbayan Cordillera, Gandeza accused Panlasigui of commanding the underground movement Kabataang Makabayan. Gandeza also questioned Panlasigui’s effectiveness as a leader and warned him to beware for the SLU Administration can trace his activities. Notably, Panlasigui is a member of the youth organization Anakbayan, an organization known for its consistent campaign not just for the rights and welfare of student but also of the greater people. By conducting activities that raise the awareness of the community to issues like Tuition and Other Fees Increase, Anti-Student Policies, Oil Price and other basic commodities’ hikes among others, Anakbayan continually achieves its objectives of educating and mobilizing the people in relation to the issues that affect them.

In the incident involving Governor Panlasigui and Dean Gandeza, we can see the clash of interests which underlies Gandeza’s assault on Panlasigui. It is the classic and recurring tale of the powerful and privileged playing on their subordinates. This is only symptomatic of a larger scheme of things which manifests itself in a lot of venues in a lot of ways. In schools, the press freedom of campus publications is being violated. The former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is still facing a libel case filed by a Professor in the University for a lampoon article. This is almost Kafkaesque, but Kafkaesque does not exactly mean utterly ridiculous, if not foolish. The Loquitur of the King’s College of the Philippines is still chained to an Administration-appointed adviser who meddles with the internal affairs of the publication. The operations of school and college-based publications in SLU and BSU are hampered by inadequate facilities. In the society at large, the Aquino administration sanctions the Oplan Bayanihan which is merely a sanitized name for the ‘legal’ silencing, prosecution, if not extirpation, of anyone who questions or criticizes the government. Even media practitioners whose job is to tell the truth about the things happenings in the community are not spared of this self-serving program by Aquino. As of November last year, at least 24 journalists have been killed in Aquino’s term. When he banked on the rhetoric of the “tuwid na daan,” Aquino did not reveal all; he did not tell us the “tuwid na daan” is a road filled with blood.

This scheme of things – where a progressive student leader like Panlasigui is being harassed by a school official, supposedly its ally in protecting the rights of students — is in effect because the powerful does not want anyone to have the proper venues to voice out its concerns, criticisms and recommendations.

This scheme of things – where campus journalists, supposedly the mouthpiece of the students, are being charged with libel cases and not being provided with the necessary equipment for their operation — is taking effect because the powerful does not want to mold critical, curious, proactive and independently thinking individuals.

This scheme of things – where the government itself not only condones but initiates the massacre, be it physical or spiritual, of its people – is in effect because the privileged and the powerful will try in all its might to keep the status quo where they rule and benefit at the expense of the larger people.

At the end of Joseph K.’s “trial”—a truly befuddling, if not senseless, or maybe philosophical one, Joseph K. was left musing about everything that just occurred to him.  Until the end, he did not know what he has done for his tormentors to do what they did just do to him. Good thing we are not in Kafka’s universe. For while the powers-that-be are trying us, trying how far our being vigilant, our being critical, our being revolutionary can go, we have the benefit of understanding the systemic origin of this “trial.” We shall not find ourselves merely musing about this hopeless fate at the end. This is not a hopeless situation we are in, after all. This is not the pages of Kafka. With our collective strength and efforts, we can put an end to this system where the powerful few are exploiting and tormenting the greater populace.



The Buttress, the official student publication of the School of Engineering and Architecture, Saint Louis University, affirms its full support for Ms. Jesusa Paquibot, former Editor-in-chief of Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is reproached with libel by a certain faculty member of UP-Baguio.

The Buttress recognizes the role of student publications as a medium for fair, honest and fearless news and views and as an agent for better relations among the students, faculty members, school administration, and the employees of the school they belong through responsible ethical journalism.  In this regard, as campus journalists, The Buttress believes that campus press freedom is essential for student publications to accomplish their roles for the welfare of the institution they serve.


The Buttress believes that the withholding of the right of student publications to freedom of expression, deterring them from informing the public of the truth, is a violation of the freedom of the press, speech and expression as stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article III, Section 4.

The Buttress recognizes that student journalists must always write responsibly and pursue only the truth.

The Buttress is certain that the UPB Outcrop’s lampoon section ‘Yupiang Yupi’ does not intend to defame a specific person and has no malice on the part of the editorial staff.

The Buttress is in one with Ms. Paquibot’s struggle in defending and upholding campus press freedom. The Buttress hopes that justice must be served where it is due, in all fairness to the opposing sides.

Decriminalize libel!

Uphold campus press freedom and student rights!


Llayd Asim

Editor-in-chief, The Buttress

BSU Mountain Collegian Support Statement on the Outcrop Libel case

The Mountain Collegian, the official student publication of Benguet State University (BSU), confirms its support for Jesusa Paquibot, editor-in-chief of the Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio (UPB), who is charged with a libel case filed against her by a certain teacher from UPB.

The Mountain Collegian accepts that campus journalists must not write afar from what is true because campus journalists have a pledge towards responsible journalism.

The Mountain Collegian recognizes the significance of campus press freedom in bringing to the student body the social task of telling the truth and expressing the ideals of the studentry. As campus journalists, The Mountain Collegian deems that campus press freedom is the heart of campus journalism. The denial of such, partly or in full and in whatever mode, is equivalent to hindering campus journalists from bringing the truth to the studentry. Furthermore, such repression is clearly violating the Constitution and the Campus Journalism Act of 1991.

The Mountain Collegian stands in the belief that the article “YupiangYupi” does not mean to insult or criticize the nature, name, and honor of anyone in particular. Moreover, the article addresses certain issues of the students, such as embarrassing campus journalists who are just doing their duties.

The Mountain Collegian hopes that justice may be served where it is due and that fairness must prevail. Lastly, all sides must be given the opportunity to be heard and the safeguard of the greatest good must be always maintained.


An Update on the Libel Case against Jesusa Paquibot, former Editor-in-Chief, UP Baguio Outcrop


July 10, 2012

January of this year when Outcrop, the official student publication of UP Baguio and member of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, received a notice from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) prosecutor indicating its decision to continue the libel case filed by a professor of UP Baguio to Jesusa Paquibot as Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop. This was after the earlier charge of libel was dismissed on November 2011 by a different prosecutor.

On January 19, 2012, Outcrop filed cash bond to recall or set aside the warrant of arrest. The original amount of ten thousand was reduced to five thousand five hundred after a motion to reduce bail was made. The amount of money raised and used for bail was garnered overnight through donations from the UP Baguio students, Outcrop alumni and others.

On February 07, 2012, in the scheduled arraignment, the respondent pleaded not guilty.

On March 07, 2012, the pre-trial was held.

On March 08 and 09, 2012, the defense requested the Court for a mediation process with the complainant. While the process went on, the complainant and the respondent were not able to settle the terms of mediation. The complainant wished that the respondent apologizes for the lampoon article it approved of publishing and which intends to defame her. The respondent and her legal advisers disagreed to these terms for they find it to be self-incriminating and similar to a guilty plea.

With the failure of the mediation process to settle the case, the initial trial was set on April 23 where the Professor testified as the private offended party.

On May 15 and 16, 2012, Professor Anna Christie, now Dean of the College of Arts and Communication of UP Baguio, testified as a witness.

On May 22 Joshua Anne Therese Tan, a Communication student at UP Baguio testified as a witness. The next day, May 23, Ms. Tan was cross-examined by the defense then the side of the private complainant presented another witness, Nelly Rae Castro, also a Communication student at UP Baguio.

On June 19, Amer Amor, an instructor at UP Baguio was presented as the last witness of the private complainant. The side of the private complainant was given ten days to a summation of its evidences to which the defense will have seven days afterwards to make comments on.

As of now, the defense plans to return the case to the Judicial Dispute Resolution where again it will try to settle the case with the complainant by agreeing on the terms of the public letter. Ms. Paquibot of Outcrop and CEGP together with her legal advisers and confreres are open to apologizing to the Professor but only for the distress the lampoon article caused her and nothing else.

In relation to this, CEGP Baguio-Benguet conducted a Round Table Discussion on Libel last June 29 at the Session Hall of the Baguio City Hall. Rowena Paraan of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines served as the main speaker. CEGP and NUJP Baguio-Benguet also relayed the situation of the campus press in the region and the synthesis respectively. Members of CEGP Baguio-Benguet and the local media (Bandila, Northern Dispatch, Sunstar Baguio, Bombo Radyo) also participated.

CEGP Baguio-Benguet is still calling for support statements from its member publications in the region and other members of the Guild nationwide. It also seeks the support of the mainstream media which is likewise prone to the threats of powerplay in the current system where libel is only one manifestation. It unites with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in its call to Decriminalize Libel and prevent criminal libel from depriving not only the right of media practitioners to freedom of expression but more importantly, the right to information of the public.

For other related materials, check on these links:

Break of Dawn: A briefer on the case of the University of the East Dawn

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” –Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize awardee


In essence, the University of the East (UE) administration has abolished the Dawn, the official student publication.

This was the first time in decades that the Dawn has not released an issue for the opening of the schoolyear. Students and other members of the UE community were asking the expected questions, “Nasaan ang Dawn? Bakit walang release ang Dawn?” However, almost everyone had the same speculation: it was a sanction for releasing an “offensive” lampoon issue followed by very critical opinion pieces.


Paralyzed operations

What happened was a systematic crack down on the publication. After the lampoon issue was released November last year, the Dawn received a “collective statement” from the UE-Manila university student council. The statement was a written complaint against the publication, which, the council claimed, released an issue that was a “great disrespect to UE…a great damage to our image.”

For three weeks in December, the Dawn, a weekly publication, was not able to circulate copies. There was no clarification whether the fund was withheld or not. The publication’s operations were paralyzed when 2011 ended.

Around this time, the editor in chief of The Dawn was no longer reporting to the editorial board. She was able to withdraw around P120, 000 from the Dawn account. However, she left an unpaid obligation of P33, 000 to the contracted printer and the staffers were not able to receive their honoraria. She also dropped all her classes this semester and could not be reached.


Manual collection

To prevent the “disappearance” of the editors in chief who were given discretion over the fund, the administration had to set up measures, said UE President Esther Albano-Garcia in an open letter to the students. In March this year, the administration met with the student councils of both UE Manila and Caloocan, and the Dawn editorial board. It was agreed upon in this meeting that the university would collect the fund (as per previous practice, the Dawn publication fee, which is P50 per student, will be included in the list of miscellaneous fees to be paid upon registration) to be disbursed according to set guidelines.

But on March 27, Garcia released an open letter to the UE students, stating that it is her “final decision that the university will no longer collect the Dawn fee starting this Summer 2012.” She said the Dawn representatives in the meeting showed sincerity in complying with the plan (the university will collect the fund but the disbursement will be according to guidelines agreed upon by the administration, councils and editorial board), but the March 12-18 articles “essayed their aversion to the proposal.”

This was her sole reason for imposing a manual collection scheme, in which the Dawn staff, composed of more or less 20 individuals, will have to collect P50 from each of the more than 6,000 students in both campuses of UE. This impossible task has effectively crippled the institution. In the first semester, less than 100 students paid the publication fee, amounting to only around P3,000, only 0.3 percent of the usual collection.

The Dawn was still able to publish a summer issue because they still have left-over funds (around P300,000 cumulative fund left from the previous terms). When the summer issue was released on May 14, the Student Affairs Office (SAO) informed the staffers through a letter that the term of the ad interim editor in chief has ended on March 31. Therefore, the staff should not have released a summer issue because from March 31 onwards, nobody in the ad interim editorial board has the “legal personality…to carry out any other activities in connection with the Dawn,” the administration claimed.

The statement that the term of the ad interim editor in chief has ended on March 31 was questionable, because according to the “Policy Guidelines of the Total Student Care Program: On Matters Concerning Student Publication,” a document governing the affairs of the UE student publications, the term of the editor-in-chief shall be limited to one school year and one summer. Hence, the term of the interim editor in chief should have ended after the summer term, or beyond March 31.

It was also last summer that the staffers were blocked from enrolling because of the administrative case. They were allowed to enlist subjects only after they signed a waiver, in which it was stated that they are enrolled until the administration releases a decision that is not in their favor.


On June 4, the first day of classes in UE, no Dawn was circulated. There was no editorial board.


No staffers

On July 23, the SAO administered a “qualifying examination” for all staffers. Anyone who wishes to be part of the Dawn must pass the exam. It was curious, however, that even those who already passed the exam a year or years before must also take the test. By the publication’s practice, staffers who already passed the test need not retake the exam.

The members of the ad interim editorial board were not allowed to take the exam because of a pending case regarding the lampoon issue. In essence, they were expelled from the publication.

The administration then informed the staffers that nobody from the 32 students who took the exam passed the test. They did not post results. There was no transparency, just the cold, definite statement that nobody passed the exam.

As if the crackdown was not enough, the administration filed a libel case against the editorial board. Three of the Dawn artists from UE Caloocan already received a subpoena.


One of the staffers who tried to conduct an interview for an article was reportedly told by an administrator that the Dawn does not exist anymore. He, or the administration for that matter, was wrong. In fact, they were wrong on numerous instances and they committed serious violations of Campus Journalism Act of 1991 and their own university guidelines (this is not to mention the serious breach of student democratic rights):

  1. The manual collection scheme does not have any basis. According to Article 7 of the UE “Policy Guidelines of the Total Student Care Program: On Matters Concerning Student Publication,” the “editorial board, in coordination with the school administration, may provide a system for the collection of publication fees from the students.” Therefore, at some distant point in the past, both parties had agreed on automatic collection, meaning the university shall collect the publication fee upon enrolment, meaning the publication fee is included in the list of miscellaneous fees to be settled upon registration. And this has been the practice since time immemorial.  

The only way for the collection scheme to be changed is when the editorial board, not any other          student organization or institution, and the administration have agreed on shifting to manual collection. In this case, the administration did not even consult the editorial board. In fact, it was only the president who decided that the manner of collection be changed.

By all means, the administration had to collect the publication fund that was not collected during the months of manual collection. Failure or refusal to do so can serve as a ground for a case.

Moreover, according to the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, in no way should “the school administration concerned withhold the release of funds sourced from the savings of the appropriations of the respective schools and other sources intended for the student publication.”

This is not the first case in which the administration imposed a manual collection scheme after the publication has written articles that earned the ire of the school officials. In various instances, this scheme has trimmed down the funds of critical student publications, thus restricting their capacity to circulate copies, to hold trainings for the staffers, and to conduct other relevant activities, as in the case of the Angelite of the Holy Angel University in Pampanga. It has been a tried and tested method of suppressing campus press freedom.

2. The qualifying examination is invalid. By practice, the staffers who passed the qualifying exam a year ago or years ago need not retake the test. On what basis, then, did the administration, without consulting the editorial board, require all staffers to take the test? Also, there is no school policy that prohibits students facing an administrative case to take the qualifying examination.

3. The convening of the screening committee, which administers the qualifying examinations, has violated the provisions of the Policy Guidelines of the Total Student Care Program. The members of the committee should include one media practitioner acceptable to “both school administration and the editorial board” and two past editors in chief “to be chosen by the outgoing editorial board.” However, it was only the administration that selected the members of the committee and did not involve the editorial board in the process. Hence, the qualifying examination administered by the committee is invalid.

The UE administration should bear in mind that the student publication is one of the concrete manifestations of students’ democratic rights in the campus. An institution can hardly claim that it is democratic if a student publication does not exist. Needless to say, a publication is an indispensible vehicle for information dissemination and exchange of ideas. Historically, the student publications served as the alternative lens at a time when the vibrant press was gagged and only the crony press operates.

It is clear that the UE administration has tried almost all the methods to shut down a publication that is beginning to speak against what it deems as unjust policies and questionable fees. Freedom of expression lies on the idea of opening spaces for a healthy discourse, a debate in which ideas are refined and pitted against one another. The truth will emerge in the competition of arguments in the “marketplace of ideas,” as Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. said.

But the administration, instead of addressing the concerns and engaging in free discourse, has chosen to incapacitate the publication, even violating its own guidelines in the process. It has even filed a libel case against the staffers. Let us remember that the libel case is a criminal case, and to file such a case against a student is tantamount to saying that he or she is not a budding journalist whose venue for training is the academe, that he or she stands on the same ground as professional media practitioners, and that the premise of academic freedom can do little to exempt him or her from being a defendant in such a case.

The disciplinary cases filed against the staffers can never be enough justification for withholding the funds or ceasing the operations of the publication. For the publication was established by the students for the students, and no other force or institution can abolish the publication or suspend its operations through various means. 

For months now, the university has been in the dead of the night, if truth and knowledge is the sunlight that pierces through the darkness. The student publication, the primary venue in which the students’ voices will be heard, is an essential vehicle of truth and knowledge. The UE administration should know that it could not keep the sun from rising, it could no longer keep the students in the dark.



Pauline Gidget Estella

National President

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