Tuesday, November 16, 2010


By Francisco S. Tatad
Former Senate Majority Leader
Board Member, WORLD YOUTH ALLIANCE, New York, NY

“What is good for the wolves is bad for the sheep.”
-A popular wisdom known to shepherds, sheep and wolves

Q. Proponents and supporters of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill claim its principal objective is to allow Filipino women to fully exercise their right to make an “informed choice” on the use of contraceptives and sterilization agents. Is that, in fact, the bill’s principal objective?

A. It is not. Filipino women and men in great numbers are already freely contracepting and getting sterilized. No law prohibits them from doing so. The Department of Health and the Population Commission have been big suppliers of contraceptives and sterilization agents and the General Appropriations Act has been carrying regular appropriations for that purpose since the 70s. DOH and Popcom personnel as well as public and private hospital staff openly ask men and women to get sterilized, especially during the birth of a new child. Many Local Government Units have since joined their ranks. The country’s contraceptive prevalence rating now stands at 50 percent. It is therefore completely misleading and deceptive to say that the RH bill in both Houses of Congress is intended to help women make an “informed choice” on the use of contraceptives and sterilization agents.

The real objective and purpose of the bill as written is to make the State the principal, if not lone, provider of contraceptives and sterilization agents to the general public. These will be distributed as “essential” frontline medicines to cure human fertility, which is not yet a disease.

The unwritten, ultimate objective of the bill is population control. The term is meticulously avoided by the population controllers and their propagandists for political correctness, but the truth is nothing else. The original objective was to reduce the size of the family around the world to two children per family by the year 2000. The latest brainstorm seems to celebrate “the only child,” which has already created a demographic disaster in China, with a projected preponderance of 30 million males without females by 2020, or the totally childless “family,” which is guaranteed by “same-sex marriage.” The RH bill seeks to accomplish its objective through universal contraception and sterilization by the State, and mandatory sex education for school children, from Grade V up to high school, without parental consent.

The bill is clearly inspired by the global population control agenda, which also provides its strongest support. This agenda was first spelled out in U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY STUDY MEMORANDUM 200, otherwise known as the 1974 KISSINGER REPORT. It considered the overall effects of continued population growth in developing countries, not on the poverty and social conditions of those countries, but rather upon the economic and security interests of the United States. Thereafter the US launched its global program to curb population growth in developing countries. The program was quickly adopted by the other rich countries, the United Nations and its various agencies, the World Bank, the IMF, the Asian Development Bank and various international funding institutions.

In the US, population control was promoted with great vigor by the Clinton administration, but its strongest support yet has come from President Barack Obama whose first major official edict was to authorize the use of US funds, disallowed by his predecessor George W. Bush, to support abortion activities in the developing countries. Abortion became legal in the US in 1973 by virtue of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. Each year, abortion takes a toll of at least 46 million unborn children around the world. China accounts for 13 million, and India 11 million of the total count.

Not everyone has had the courage (again out of political correctness), to call it by its proper name---Genocide. But both the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on Dec. 9, 1948---one day before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted---and the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court of 1998 classify as genocid, “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial or religious group.” These include, but are not limited to, “deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part,” and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” At the Nuremberg war trials of 1945-6, the Nazis’ effort “to decrease the birth rate in Nazi- occupied countries by sterilization, castration and abortion, by separating husband from wife and men from women and obstructing marriage” was condemned and punished as a “crime against humanity.” But the very same people who condemned such unspeakable horror in the last century are now promoting it as a boon to humanity in this century.

Population control unleashed radical changes in social mores and lifestyle and systematic attacks on human life, the family and marriage.. As these attacks intensified, Pope John Paul II warned against the conflict between the culture of life and the culture of death. Among many Filipinos, DEATH came to be known as the lethal acronym for Divorce, Euthanasia, Abortion, Total fertility control, Homosexual practices (same-sex marriage, etc).

What seems to excite some people is the continued dynamism and robustness of our population, despite all our man-made woes. It continues to grow at 1.9 percent annually, according to the CIA World Factbook, while most other countries are posting negative growth rates. This growth rate is not high, but the real numbers continue to grow because people “finally stopped dying like flies.” The average worker in the Philippines is much younger than his counterpart in most of the world, giving us a longterm edge that has been lost forever to so many countries. Population controllers and their propagandists, however, continue to alarm us about our supposedly “exploding” numbers, without looking at the age-structure, which puts us above most of everybody else, when the world’s most serious problem is the irreversible ageing, “de-fertilization”, “depopulation” and “dechristianization” now changing the face of Europe.

Writing in the November/December 2010 issue of the prestigious US quarterly journal, Foreign Affairs, Nicholas Eberstadt, one of the world’s most respected demographers, reports that “almost all of the world’s developed countries have sub-replacement fertility, with overall birth-rates more than 20 percent below the level required for long-term population stability. But developed countries account for less than a fifth of the world’s population; the great majority of the world’s population with sub-replacement fertility in fact reside in low-income societies…Between now and 2020, the global supply of potential workers is set to grow much more slowly than in the previous two decades. According to U.S.Census Bureau projections, the absolute increase in the world’s working-age (between 15 and 64) population between 2010 and 2030 will be around 900 million people, 400 million fewer than over the past two decades. The projected average rate of global manpower growth for the coming decades is 0.9 percent per year, only half the rate for the period between 1990 and 2010… It is not alarmist to warn that there is no time to lose in recognizing---and adapting to---the enormity of the world’s unavoidable demographic challenges.”

Our situation in the Philippines is tragic and perverse. We are being asked to renounce our enormous natural demographic advantage as a great liability, and to embrace the costly and ruinous population policies of the West that have long failed.

Q.Is there anything wrong with the State or Government flooding the
country with contraceptives and sterilization agents and distributing them
free of charge to the public?

A. Plenty.

1. First of all, this is not the business of the State. The Catholic Church condemns contraception and sterilization as evil, while other “religious traditions” do not. Given the plurality of beliefs, the State cannot favor one and do violence to all the others, or vice versa. It cannot oblige everyone to reject contraception and sterilization, for that would favor Catholics; but it can neither oblige everyone to use contraceptives and sterilization agents, for that would favor non-Catholics. It has to take a neutral position, which would allow the various “religious traditions” to teach their respective doctrines, without the approval or disapproval of the State. Their followers would then be free to follow or not to follow what their respective churches teach.

This is what is happening now. Those who want to contracept and get themselves sterilized are free to do so, and are freely doing so; and those who reject contraception and sterilization as evil are not compelled to do so. The status quo is working, except for the fact that, contrary to what the public has been made to believe, the Government, for many years now, has been consistently funding an RH program and receiving donations in cash and in kind from foreign sources to promote the RH- population control agenda, in violation of the 1987 Constitution. This is the real constitutional and legal issue Congress must resolve.

In opposing the bill, the Church is simply asking our legislators to respect the natural moral law, and the most basic of all human rights, related to the sanctity and inviolability of human life, marriage and the family, and never to transgress the sacred precincts of the family bedroom and tell married couples how to exercise their marital rights and duties. No government does that, except in totalitarian States. We are not yet a totalitarian State, thank God, and we must curb every totalitarian impulse latent among our political bosses.

2. Second, the Constitution, to which every law must conform, does not allow state contraception or sterilization. Where does the Constitution say that? In Article II ---DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES---Section 12 provides, among others, that “the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

That is not just a ban on abortion. It is also a ban on State contraception and sterilization. Why so? Because the State cannot be “the protector of the life of the unborn from the moment of conception” while at the same time involved in a contraception and sterilization program whose main, if not sole, purpose is to prevent women, or even just a single woman, from conceiving a child. The two things are opposed to each other and contradictory; the result is an absurdity which all legislation abhors.

3. Third, even if the constitutional ban on state contraception and
sterilization did not exist, the Philippines is not a welfare state
and has neither the duty nor the resources to provide directly for the population’s every need or want. Were the Philippines a welfare state, provided it had not lost its core values, its first duty would have been to provide for the people’s basic needs----food, water, clothing, shelter, education, health---though not any non-essential want, which could include contraceptives. In the area of health, it could mean free medical care and hospitalization for those afflicted with the most common diseases, the leading killer diseases and occasional epidemics, before throwing money (if ever) to eradicate fertility, as though it were a dreaded pandemic.

4. Fourth, the latest state of research has shown that many, if not most, contraceptives are no longer merely contraceptives but actual abortifacients. They do not just prevent conception but rather prevent the initial development of pregnancy even after fertilization. They either intercept the embryo before implantation in the uterus, thus they are called interceptives, or they eliminate the newly implanted embryo altogether, thus they are called contragestives. Since abortion is a criminal offense, the government cannot be part of any program that gives out abortifacients, even if the constitutional ban on state-supplied contraceptives did not exist.

5. Fifth, precisely because State contraception and sterilization are constitutionally prohibited, even if the RH bill were passed on the vote of a “lynch-mob” majority, that would not make it constitutional nor give it the first property of a just law. As Pope Benedict XVI says, “there are things that are always wrong and can never be legalized,” just as “there are some things that absolutely always remain legally binding, things that precede every majority decision, things that majority decisions must respect.” Instead of clearing the way for the massive public distribution of contraceptives and sterilization agents as essential medicines, an unjust law could simply provoke passive or active resistance among a particular class of Filipinos. That could ultimately create worse problems for the society and the State.

Q. The opponents of the RH bill appear to ignore altogether the fact that the bill allows men and women to choose between “modern contraceptives” and the traditional method or natural family planning. Do you also reject natural family planning (NFP)?

A. The bill makes passing mention of NFP, but its real focus is on state contraception and sterilization. Nothing in the bill says NFP shall be promoted as an essential service to married couples, that medical personnel will be trained to provide the service and to train others, that every hospital and clinic and every commercial establishment, etc. will be required to have a specific number of personnel who are skilled in the Billings method or something else. In contrast, there is a detailed proposal on how the State will provide contraceptives and sterilization agents to the public. The token reference to NFP is mere icing on the cake.

But let us first clarify our terms. No parity exists between contraception and NFP. NFP is not contraception---not by a long shot. Contraception requires the use of an artificial method to prevent fertilization, which occurs when a spermatozoa successfully penetrates the ovum in the fallopian tubes. NFP on the other hand simply requires the married couple to abstain from sex during the wife’s fertile period to avoid a possible pregnancy. It does not interfere with a woman’s fertility cycle, nor attempt to render infertile a woman’s fertile period. Because it is not contraception, couples may freely use it to space child-bearing, and the State can support it, consistent with its constitutional duty “to defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

Q. How effective, and how difficult, is the successful practice of NFP?

A. Some studies in the early 90s have shown that NFP could be
effective up to 98 percent, or higher. But those studies did not
create any strong demand for NFP, simply because the method
does not give the big pharmaceutical firms or even government
bureaucrats the opportunity to make large piles of money.

Q. Aside from State contraception and sterilization, the RH bill is
proposing a mandatory age-appropriate sex education for students
from Grade V up to high school without parental consent. What is
so outrageous about that? Shouldn’t parents welcome it as a
necessary help in the education of their children?

A. Both the Constitution and moral law recognize parents as the natural and primary educators of their children. The State cannot take away that right without turning totalitarian, and parents cannot throw it away without submitting to totalitarianism and showing themselves to be irresponsible, unpatriotic and unfit to become parents. The rank audacity of that proposal is compounded by the patent profanity (lapsing into occasional pornography) of the graphic images that are being piloted as instructional materials in various places as of now. They have no ethically redeeming value, are clearly destructive of the moral character and sexual composure and purity of the young.

Q. Should Catholics oppose the RH bill because it is unconstitutional
or because it goes against the teaching of the Church? What about

A. Catholics and non-Catholics should oppose the bill on
constitutional and moral grounds. Both the Constitution and the moral law must be followed at all times. Both are assaulted with equal severity by the RH bill. The moral law is not for Catholics only, and the Constitution binds all citizens. Article II of the Constitution, entitled DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES, and Article XV, THE FAMILY, speak of “the sanctity of human life; the family as the foundation of the nation; marriage as the foundation of the family and as an inviolable social institution; the right of spouses to found a family according to their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood; the right of the mother to bear a child and the right of the unborn child to be born; the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children; the right of youth and women to achieve their full potential as persons and as citizens; the right of the people to health and to a balanced environment in harmony with nature.”

These policies are not self-enforcing. They need an enabling
law to put flesh and bones into them. The RH bill cannot possibly be that.

POPULATION DEVELOPMENT. How does it relate to the constitutional policy or policies laid down in Article II and Article XV on procreation and childbearing, responsible parenthood and population development? It has no bearing at all.

The term “reproductive health” does not appear in our Constitution. It is a new coinage, which entered “international” usage only recently. The World Health Organization, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the various UN agencies, as well as the US and at least G-8 seem agreed that the term includes “access to abortion.” The authors of the RH bill, on the other hand, assure us that the term does not include “access to abortion,” which remains a punishable crime.

Since the bill invokes “international law” as part of the bases of
its proposals, it seems but right that whatever “international term” is used should carry its popularly accepted international meaning. Otherwise, the bill should use univocal and unambiguous terms only, understandable to Filipinos, for whom the proposed law is written. No legal text should have one meaning for a foreign audience and another meaning for the local. The term “reproductive health” should probably be avoided altogether.

Obviously, “reproductive health” is intended to clothe in
bureaucratic Newspeak the health issues related to childbearing. If
that is so, and we detect no evidence to the contrary, then the RH
bill is seeking to introduce a policy where the Constitution has
already formulated a policy or policies. Is that permissible? Not
so. The only thing Congress can do is to propose a law to
implement a non-self-enforcing constitutional policy or policies.
Can the RH bill do that? Not likely. Why? Because its provisions
are headed in the opposite direction. The pro-RH solons need to
craft a new and better bill.

Q. As a Catholic, should I listen to my bishop or to my congressman
and the senators on this issue? Please enlighten me.

A. Listen to all. It is a constitutional and moral issue. So listen to
your bishop because the bill is addressed to your whole person, to
everything that you are, your body and soul, your politics, your
economic and social wellbeing, your relations with everyone in your family, and with others, your salvation above all.

Does the State or Government have the right to intervene in the most
intimate acts that bind a man and a woman in marriage, or are
these not sacred precincts where not even the State may intrude?

Congress can pass no law “abridging the freedom of speech, of
expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Can that same Congress now pass a law abridging a married couple’s
God-given right to exchange seed and substance in the conjugal

The State has no right to tell a journalist, broadcaster, or
legislator what to say on any subject, how to say it, and how much
time to take in saying it. Does the same State have a higher right to
tell a man how to embrace and make love to his wife?

This is a fundamental moral and meta-legal issue, which must be
clear to every adult person, and on which the Church has a right and
duty to pronounce her position on behalf of the whole person;
listen to it. And listen to your congressman and senators, too,
because it is a constitutional issue and every legislation must
conform to the Constitution. You have a right to expect your
congressman and senators to be familiar with the Constitution and
to be faithful to it. And because the legislators are supposed to
represent the people, and you are a part of the people, make sure
they listen to you, too. Above all, they have a specific duty under Section 3 (4), Article XV of the Constitution to listen to families and family associations in the planning and implementation of programs affecting them.

The State is not mandated to act as the official enforcer of Catholic teaching, or the teaching of any church for that matter, but does the State have the right, or the duty, to enact a law that attacks a specific Church doctrine and requires Catholic taxpayers to fund the program that criminally attacks that doctrine of their faith?

That would be entirely unjust in a situation where Catholics were a small minority. But where they constitute the overwhelming majority, it would be more than unjust: it would be rank tyranny. Especially since, while defending their rights, they are not taking anything away from, or imposing any burden on, any religious minority. The injury to the common good would persist even if Catholics were no longer made to pay their taxes and declared exempt from the unjust law.

Q. But not all the parties are agreed on when life begins. One group says
life begins upon fertilization of the ovum, another group says it begins upon its implantation upon the uterus. Who will resolve this conflict, and how can one take a definitive position against contraception or sterilization while this issue is unresolved?

A. Not being a medical doctor, I can only refer to the accepted wisdom of the ages. For as long as memory holds, the medical profession and the rest of humanity have always understood conception as synonymous with fertilization. The records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that when they were debating the provision, that “the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception,” they agreed that conception meant fertilization. Now there are attempts to redefine that. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, for one, defines pregnancy as beginning with implantation. But this seems more in line with some political agenda than with any recent discovery of modern science. The new claim therefore has failed to displace or disturb the settled view of the medical profession: pregnancy begins at fertilization.

Nevertheless, the point I am making has nothing to do with that. It is simply this, that when the Constitution says the State shall protect the life of the unborn from conception, it means that at whatever point life begins—whether upon fertilizer or upon implantation---the duty of the State is to “protect the the life of the unborn” from that moment on. It does not change. Therefore the government cannot be part of a contraception or sterilization program, whose purpose is to prevent women from conceiving. We just cannot have an absurd situation where the State, through its RH program, actively prevents babies from being conceived, so that at the end of the day it would be able to say, “Sorry, we have no unborn babies to protect.”

Q. Is it not possible to debate this issue without involving our faith? Doesn’t the Catholic Church realize that it is losing many of its members for speaking out so strongly on this issue?

A. Yes and no.

Yes, if the proponents of the RH bill could but answer three simple questions:

1) Does the State or the government have the right or duty to tell any married couple how to perform their marital rights and duties in the privacy of their bedroom?

2) If the State is the protector of the life of the unborn from the moment of conception, does it have the right or duty to run a simultaneous contraception and sterilization program whose main, if not sole, purpose is to prevent women from conceiving?

3) If the Constitution recognizes parents as the natural and primary educators of their children, does the State have the right or duty to impose a compulsory sex education program on minor schoolchildren, without parental consent?

Religion does not have to figure at all. But wherever and whenever human dignity is attacked, men and women of faith have a right and a duty to speak out. For as De Tocqueville puts it, “despotism can govern without faith, but liberty cannot.” The oft-misquoted “separation” of Church and State does not separate the State from God. That’s why in the first line of the Preamble of our Constitution, we implore “the aid of Almighty God.” And the President’s oath to “preserve and defend the Constitution, execute (the nation’s) laws, do justice to every man and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation,” ends with, “So help me God.”

And as Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the Archbishop of Cebu, reminds us, why was the intervention of the bishops so welcome and cheered in February 1986 when they said Ferdinand Marcos had lost the moral authority to govern after winning the snap presidential elections, and now, there is every attempt to silence their objection to the RH bill, which threatens to destroy the integrity of the human person, the family and the entire society? Out of pure cussedness, they even cheer the pro-RH boor who tried to disrupt an ecumenical service at the Manila Cathedral.

The Church to whom most of us belong is not out there to win a rigged survey or popularity contest. She will speak the truth as the truth needs to be said, and when all her false supporters have gone, she will be standing there, stronger than the strongest oak, empty of all false pretences and filled to overflowing with the spirit of God.

Q. Are you still hopeful then that the President could finally be persuaded to reconsider his announced position on the RH bill?

A. One has to be. The pressure from abroad is understandably enormous, but it is a question of the Constitution and national sovereignty. The President’s duty is to defend both at all times, from all forces, including our own friends and allies. That is non-negotiable. And he still has some time to study the Constitution and the history of population control, and what it proposes to do and has already done to mankind. It is a great opportunity for conversion and transformation. Especially if he could see that the effort of the global anti-life forces to redefine the human being, the family and marriage is not a smaller matter than the travel advisories against the Philippines that seem to cause him so much anxiety these days.

Q. If what you say is true, that the RH bill is an imperialist ploy, then why is it that the usual “conservatives” are the ones opposing it, while the so-called “progressives” and “nationalists” are the ones pushing for it?

A. That is one of the great mysteries of our time. We should ask our progressive and nationalist friends why. If they are prepared to shout anti-imperialist slogans, burn the American flag to protest the rape of a Filipino woman by a drunken American sailor, and march for the expulsion of the visiting US forces in Mindanao at the slightest excuse, why are they the first ones to abuse those who oppose with conviction a bill that seeks to impose a racist and anti-poor population control policy on their unsuspecting and misinformed countrymen? Not enough nationalism and patriotism seems to be going on there. But we can’t afford to give up on anyone. We continue to pray that they’ll come around. Our greatest enemy is not malice but ignorance.

Q. The surveys seem to indicate the pro-RH group has all the numbers, both inside and outside Congress. Is it not time to throw in the towel, or are you praying for a miracle?

A. We must pray for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to prevail. Let’s not forget that nobody can fool all the people all the time. Until the last elections, the paid pollsters and the conscript media had a good run. So many had been fooled by them.

But we know, and they know we know, what kind of deception they had been foisting upon our people. Soon enough the truth will overtake them. So let’s not play their game. Let us instead try to get everyone to answer the following questions:

1. Do you honestly believe that any government has the right to tell any married couple what to do before, during and after marital intercourse?

2. Do you honestly believe that lawmakers and the President could simply ignore the Constitution and the natural moral law and do what the population controllers and the donor institutions are asking them to do without any cost or consequence?

3. Do you honestly believe that if they did all that, the people would simply do nothing and the government would still have any moral authority to govern?

There cannot be any two ways of reading the moral law and the Constitution. To return to the basic issue:

1) If the State is the protector of the life of the unborn from the moment of conception, it cannot run a program that will prevent women from conceiving.

2) If parents are the natural and primary educators of their chldren, the State cannot impose a mandatory sex education program on minor schoolchildren without parental consent.

3) The State cannot do all these things without abolishing the Constitution and morphing into a totalitarian order.

So it’s not just a numbers game. Legislation must begin with the truth
and justice. Even the foreign population controllers must know this,
otherwise they would just be funding civil disorder.

Q. Is there anything good at all which the Government can do under the circumstances?

A. The best thing the Government can do is simply to follow the Constitution, uphold and safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, and protect the culture of our people. Colonialism is long over. Let us not allow ourselves to become the plaything of those who want to impose their hedonistic ideologies and flawed lifestyles upon our culture. We have so much to teach them, they have very little to teach us, outside of science and technology, which needs to be governed by ethics in any case.


Q. Does it mean there is absolutely nothing in the RH bill worthy of enactment? A paper issued jointly by Loyola School of Theology and the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues, and specifically attributed to three distinguished Jesuits-----Fathers Eric O. Genilo, S.J., John J. Carroll, S. J., and Joaquin Bernas, S. J. ----says “total rejection of the bill…will not change the status quo of high rates of infant mortality, maternal deaths, and abortions.” What is your take on that?

A. Infant and maternal mortality needs to be adequately addressed, and
the proper medical response is known. It is not contraceptives or sterilization agents. The same with criminal abortion. In fact, the bill contains several good provisions that could be immediately
implemented to address this and other problems. For instance:

• The establishment or upgrading of hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provide emergency obstetric care. Or the establishment of one hospital for comprehensive emergency obstetric care and four hospitals for basic emergency obstetric care to serve every 500,000 population.

• The proposal that all LGUs, national and local government hospitals, and other public health units conduct an annual maternal death review in accordance with guidelines set by the DOH.

• The proposal that all serious and life threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and obstetric complications be given maximum benefits as provided by PhilHealth programs.

• The proposal that a Mobile Health Care Service in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal and mountainous areas deliver legitimate health care goods and services, minus the controversial ones.

All these could be done right now with a modicum of creativity and political will. They could be made part of the ongoing health program and adequately funded, just as the present DOH-Popcom RH program has been consistently funded over the years, even if it lacks any constitutional leg to stand on. These need not be legislated at all. That they are in the RH bill is probably simply to provide an ornamental function, some window dressing, to make it appear that the bill is not toxic altogether. But the Executive, if it so desires, could implement them now, without delay, and with no legal impediment.

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