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Strengthening Business Sector-Academe-Government Collaboration Thru Orobest Innovation Program

September 16, 2019

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The Optimizing Regional Opportunities for Business Excellence through Science, Technology, and Innovation (OROBEST) is a regional program that enhances industry productivity and competitiveness through the generation and adoption of scientifically-developed technologies.        This program is a pilot endeavor of the Oro Chamber in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-X), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-X), USAID – Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE), and the academic institutions in Region 10.        According to Dr. Irene Floro, president of the Oro Chamber, “We have this innovation program in order to serve the technology innovation needs of the business establishments in our locality. We are tapping our local universities in the region that has the capacity to provide these answers through their research departments and technology centers..”      After its successful launching last July 11, OROBEST Program Team conducted technology needs assessment with the small and micro-enterprises within the region as well as inventory of commercial and potential technologies from the academe.      “At the moment, we are currently reaching out and prioritizing the small and micro enterprises who may have the needs to improve their technologies,” Queritess Queja, Executive Director of the Oro Chamber said.      Last September 10, a Consultation with the Business Sector and Academic Institutions was held at Limketkai Luxe Hotel which identified the challenges of these sectors in terms of collaboration. The consultation also determined how these sectors can further strengthen their partnerships towards technology development and innovation.       With the positive results of the Consultation among these sectors, the Oro chamber- OROBEST program will again hold a series of activities on September 18-20, 2019, such as, Innovation Talk, Ideation and Project Design Workshops.

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Chamber Management Forum strengthens Mindanao chambers

September 16, 2019

ILIGAN CITY - The network of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Mindanao took a step forward following a Chamber Management Forum 12 Sept at GoHotels Iligan.       Over 70 chamber officers in various capacities from chambers as far as Siargao, Davao, General Santos and Cotabato joined the half day forum organized by the Phil. Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Philippines Chamber Development Institute (PhilCDI).       The event aimed to increase awareness of participants on trends and developments affecting business and business support organizations to help them shape their local chamber work programs.       It also sought to present opportunities for developing and expanding local chamber services particularly training and international networking.       The forum featured outstanding speakers for the four topics discussed.       The "Three-Circle" Guide for Chambers was discussed by Edwin R. Glindro, Asst. Sec. Gen. for International and Regional Affairs of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).       Renato G. Simbulan, PCCI Director for Chamber Developmemt and Chairman, International Affairs, spoke on Business Networking through PCCI Business Councils.       Engr. Leandro H. Gazmin, President of the CVDFH Agricultural Products Training, discussed The Role of Chambers in Promoting Agriculture Competitiveness.       Not the least, Marlon Mina, Executive Director of the Human Resource Development Foundarion discussed Implementing Dual Education through Local Chambers and Industry Associations.       The forum was also graced by PCCI Pres. Ma. Alegria S. Limjoco, PCCI Vice President for Mindanao Mercedes S. Quisumbing, and PCCI Region X Gov. Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio.

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28th Minbizcon to raise 6 policy agenda to PRRD

September 16, 2019

THE 28th Mindanao Business Conference will raise six major policy agenda to President Rodrigo R. Duterte when he addresses the closing plenary of the annual event on Saturday, September 14, at the MSU-IIT gym in Iligan City.      The Mindanao Business Conference is an annual area conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI) led by President Alegria Limjoco and Area Vice President for Mindanao and 28th MinBizCon Chair Merlou Quisimbing.         This year’s host is the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Iligan Foundation Inc. (CCIIFI) led by President and 28th MinBizCon Director Reggie Punongbayan.       Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Region 10 Governor identified these policy agenda as Upgrading Airport Capabilities in five key areas; increasing private 2sector consultations and participation in the Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade (ROLL IT) program;  expediting action on the TRABAHO Bill given its Implications to Business; Fast-tracking the Rehabilitation of Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Plant ; Institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach under EO 70 to address Mindanao’s perennial peace and order issues; and, Fast-tracking the Economic Recovery of Marawi City. Upgrade Airports in Key Areas      The first policy agenda seeks the upgrading of airports’ capabilities in Pagadian, Ozamiz, Surigao (and Siargao), Camiguin, and Laguindingan Airport.      “Mindanao’s air passenger volume performance in 2011 to 2018 is surpassing the country’s annual average growth rate (9.7% vs. 7.7%), coupled with an increasing share (12.0% to 13.1%),” Alegrio noted.      Aside from Mindanao’s 5 biggest airports of Davao, Laguindingan, Zamboanga, General Santos and Butuan, the Ozamiz, Pagadian, Camiguin, and Surigao Airports have exhibited increasing shares and growth – a testament of their rising significance to business and to the influence areas they cater to, she added.       Among the actionable areas being sought by the MinBizCon are increased transparency on the entire project cycle of all airport development projects, the upgrading of night time operations capabilities of all airports, and the acceleration of the procurement process for Laguindingan Airport’s upgrade, expansion, operations and maintenance given the OPS status granted to Aboitiz InfraCapital unsolicited proposal. ROLL-IT Program      Meantime, the private sector is asking DPWH and DTI to conduct regular consultations between and among the Mindanao regions with business and industry sectors of all regions to improve transparency and spur participation/optimize benefits of the Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade (ROLL IT) program.      Intensifying regular consultations and feedback mechanisms would improve the knowledge level of the private sector and should include orientation on the entire project cycle (planning to evaluation), regular consultations with the local industry leaders for project identification, and dedicated website portals for effective monitoring of project implementation.      The policy of the national government during the procurement process e. g., opening of sealed bids, should designate the private sector representative as a permanent and voting member of the bids and awards committee, and not merely as an observer.  TRABAHO Bill      The private sector is seeking a similar protocol from the Department of Finance (DOF) as the main proponent of the TRABAHO bill to undertake a series of consultations similar to small town-hall meetings with the business sector to provide first-hand information on the relevant contents, and implications to members of the business community, labor and to the national economy.      With the failure of the bill to pass last Congress, the TRABAHO package needs to be refiled in the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress. Even if passed, this is expected to be a protracted process, thus the business community need to increase lobbying efforts on the legislative process in order to fast-track its enactment into law, while allowing for more in-depth analysis on its implications to labor and human capital, internal revenues, business competitiveness, trade performance, health and education, countryside investment, among others.      Proposed comprehensive reforms on taxation and in fiscal incentives are seldom undertaken resulting to dissimilar and contrasting interpretations and implications.       Hence, it is imperative for the national government, more particularly the DOF as the main proponent of the TRABAHO package of tax and fiscal incentives reforms, and together with other government agencies      The TRABAHO package forwarded by DOF intends to progressively lower the current corporate income tax (CIT) from 30% to 20% over a 10-year period to benefit MSMEs that constitute the bulk of business establishments in the country.       It also aims to modernize the current convoluted fiscal incentive environment to make it more ‘pro-investment and pro-incentive’ i.e. create more jobs, advance R & D, cause technology transfers, encourage innovation, stimulate domestic industries, promote countryside development, and diversify to high-value export goods. Agus-Pulangi HEPP Rehab      In another key policy agenda, the private sector is asking the DOF and DOE to fast-track the Rehabilitation of Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Plant (HEPP) in the 2020 National Expenditure Program plan, being the most significant and urgent challenge to the power sector as it has far ranging ramifications on the business climate and competitiveness dynamism of Mindanao.       Corollary to the fast-tracking of Agus-Pulangi system’s rehabilitation is the privatization mandated by the EPIRA law. PSALM together with the Joint Congressional Power Committee (JCPC), should consider other options such as a hybrid privatization where the Operations and Maintenance (O& M) can be privatized but the ownership of the facility remains with government.      Another option is to exclude the Agus and Pulangi HEPPs from the privatization plans of PSALM and seriously considered this in the amendment of the EPIRA law.       The websites of the departments of Finance and Energy and the National Power Corporation should contain a dedicated section on the status of the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power plants and evolving completion targets, if any.  Furthermore, the updates should include progressive updates on the privatization of these HEPPs.      At present the procurement of services for the feasibility study is still underway and if proceed as planned; the entire rehabilitation will take place within the next 4 to 5 years or, 2023 to 2024.  Cost has been estimated to exceed a little over US$1.0 Billion.   EO 70 Whole-of-Nation Approach      To address Mindanao’s perennial peace and order problem, the private sector is seeking the institutionalization of the Whole-of-Nation Approach detailed in Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70).      As the most crucial first step, this policy agenda seeks the formation of regional and/or city ad-hoc inter-agency and multi-sectoral groups facilitated by the designated lead government agency to fast-track the attainment of inclusive and sustainable peace.       Government agencies and their instrumentalities can present to the ad-hoc groups their respective plans and programs in accordance with their respective mandates that can significantly contribute to EO 70.  In the same manner, the private sector partners can likewise present complimentary plans and programs.      Only then can an implementation plan be formulated that defines the activities to be undertaken, the extent of required resources (manpower, funds, hardware and technology) needed, with responsibilities clearly allocated amongst the members.         Issued in December 2018, EO 70 reframes and refocuses government policy as it recognizes that insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats are not only military and security concerns, but symptomatic of broader social, economic, and historical problems, such as poverty, historical injustice, social inequality, and lack of inclusivity, among others.       Thus, the whole-of-nation approach addresses the root causes by prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government, by facilitating social inclusivity, and by ensuring active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda. Fast-tracking the Economic Recovery of Marawi City      Not the least, the private sector seeks the following measures to expedite the economic recovery of Marawi City following the protracted siege by Islamic terrorists.      ADB estimates 369,196 persons with about 100,000 school-aged children were displaced from Marawi City and surrounding municipalities, with 270 civilians killed; 5,627 houses damaged including one municipal hall, one public market, 69 school buildings and 10 madaris, 21 health facilities; and, 73.8 kilometers of city roads and 3 bridges, numerous water supply and distribution assets, and 30.4 kilometers of power distribution lines destroyed.      To fast track the rebuilding of the city’s economy, the private sector is asking the DTI and other relevant government agencies especially members of the Business and Livelihood Sub-Cluster to continue, enhance and further accelerate efforts to assist the Marawi business community through external marketing and promotion of local products and services.       Orientation by DTI on the Supplier Development Program should be conducted soonest to explore potential opportunities with the business sector.      For DTI, the City Government of Marawi, the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, with the support of multilateral donor agencies, to establish a Business Resilience Center to institutionalize the promotion of overall business and economic recovery and ensure unparalleled prosperity and growth for Marawi City; as well as enable the business community to pro-actively adapt to future disruptions while strongly maintaining continuous business activities, and safeguarding people and assets.      For DTI with partner MFIs and other private financial institutions to design and support an expanded and Marawi-specific financing packages with risk-mitigation features for the entrepreneurial business community in Marawi.      And lastly, for DICT to strongly urge private telecommunications companies to immediately restore the necessary infrastructure to improve telecommunication connections in Marawi.

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28th MinBizCon to pursue Laguindingan Airport Expansion

September 11, 2019

The private sector will actively lobby for the expansion of the congested Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental during the 28th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) on September 12-14, 2019 at Iligan City. “This will be one of the issues we will raise during the MinBizCon,” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, regional governor for Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). “We have already prepared our position paper on the status of domestic airports in Mindanao and will raise this on the floor during the plenary session.” A year ago, PCCI-10 passed a resolution requesting DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade to prioritize the development and expansion of Laguindingan Airport within the next five years (2019-2023). The resolution noted that the original proposal to improve the capacity and operations of the Laguindingan airport included upgrading the facilities /equipments to be of international standards, specifically, the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the airport along with the development of associated infrastructure and facilities, and the installation of all required equipment to meet international standards.  (please see sidebar story) As a regional airport serving Northern Mindanao and its adjacent regions, the Laguindingan Airport has been serving six provinces, two highly urbanized cities and five component cities with an average of two million passengers annually for the last three (3) years.  “Laguindingan Airport has become an important logistic network for over 150 medium to large scale industries including four major thermal power plants, the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric Complex. 3 industrial parks, and emerging tourism destinations,” Alegrio noted. Media reports recently disclosed that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is seeking an additional P100 million to start detailed engineering works and much needed repairs on the Laguindingan Airport as part of the P2.9 billion augmentation budget to fund its priority projects, including the development of four airports, the construction of the Pagasa Island port, and the implementation of the public utility vehicle modernization program. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) originally allocated P400-million (M) for the terminal building expansion of the Laguindingan Airport, but this was reduced to P180-M, then again halved to P90-M, before being slashed altogether by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA). However, the business sector lobbied strongly for the restoration of the reduced budget and the P90-M was eventually restored through a Congressional Initiative by Rep. Juliette Uy (2nd District, Misamis Oriental). Sources at the DOTr said a portion of the P90-M would be used for the Detailed Engineering (DE) of the proposed expanded passenger terminal building. The bidding process for an independent consultant to undertake the DE is now being processed and the contract is expected to be awarded by the latter part of 2019. The balance of the P90-M would used to rehabilitate dilapidated portions of the terminal building such as the comfort rooms. Even if the original P90-M would already be used up, construction of the new PTB would still continue with the proviso the funds used for this purpose would be reimbursed to the national government by the winning bidder for the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project to develop and expand the Laguindingan Airport faculties. ”While we appreciate the 90M Congressional Initiative Fund restored by Rep. Juliette Uy, this amount is barely enough to refurbish the dilapidated areas including the poorly designed comfort rooms and malfunctioning elevators,” said Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, president of Promote Northmin Inc. “Government should now fast track the entry of private sector companies to expand and improve all the facilities of Laguindingan so that it can already accommodate direct flights from regional and international destinations, including lengthening the runway to meet wide body jet aircraft,” he added. Alegrio said the MinBizCon would seek a clarification from DOTr if the P100 million it is seeking for the Laguindingan Airport development in next year’s budget is the same item as the P90 million earlier committed as a congressional insertion by Rep. Uy. When it started operations in 15 June 2013, air passenger traffic at the Cagayan de Oro Lumbia Airport that Laguindingan Airport was designed to replace had already exceeded the 1.6 million design capacity of the new passenger terminal building (PTB). “To put it bluntly, the replacement airport was congested upon opening,” said a former DOTC official involved in its planning. When the passenger traffic exceeded 2 million annual passengers last year, the need for a larger terminal that could accommodate the current and expected passenger volume over the medium term became urgent and critical. On a year-on-year basis alone, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines ( CAAP) figures for the past 10 years show passenger traffic at the Cagayan de Oro Lumbia Airport increasing at an annual rate of 8.7% from 902,133 in 2008 to 2,079,683in 2018 (doubling passenger volume every 8.5 years.) Recent growth in air cargo traffic was even more impressive, soaring 44% from 2017 to 25,366 metric tons (MT). The 11% increase in the number of flights from 2017 to 2018 (17,478 aircraft takeoffs and landings) was mainly responsible for the meteoric rise in both passenger and cargo movements. In a related development, DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade announced last 15 July the proposed extension of the 2.1 kilometer runway to 2.4 or 2.5 kilometers is proceeding as planned. The P250-M budget for this project is already included in the 2020 National Expenditure Plan (NEP), which Congress wants approved before the year end. This was part of the Feasibility Study expansion proposal endorsed by the Regional Development Council for Region 10 (RDC-X) and approved by the NEDA Board in 2014. -30-

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In response to PCCI-X Resolution: DOTr changes Laguindingan Airport Expansion Modality

September 11, 2019

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has changed the process through which the expansion of the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental would be undertaken in response to the clamor of the business sector.      Exactly a year ago, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Region X (PCCI-X) and its affiliate chambers and organizations passed a resolution requesting DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade to prioritize the development and expansion of Laguindingan Airport within the next five years (2019-2023).      “Actually, DOTr’s  response was to  re-open the proposed expansion project  to a Public-Private Partnership (PPP),” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, Region 10 Governor for the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) which spearheaded the resolution.      “As you know Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. (AIC) has been granted the Original Proponent Status (OPS) and the NEDA Investment Coordinating Committee (NEDA ICC) is currently reviewing the revised proposal including the new budget of P42.7-Billion (B).  Next step is for NEDA Board to finally approve the proposed expansion, then subject it to a Swiss Challenge within 30 days,” she added.      Executive Order (EO) 230 (Reorganizing the National Economic and Development Authority) established the inter-agency Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) as one of the committees under the NEDA Board engaged in rationalizing national public investments and expenditures.      The resolution noted that the original proposal to improve the capacity and operations of the Laguindingan airport included upgrading the facilities /equipments to be of international standards, specifically, the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the Airport along with the development of associated infrastructure and facilities, and the installation of all required equipment to meet applicable international standards.      The scope of the expansion for the Laguindingan Airport would be implemented through the Public-Private Partnership modality in accordance with the approved plan covering the expansion/construction of new passenger terminal(s), along with all associated infrastructure and facilities as per applicable standards.      The scope of work also cover the installation of all the required equipment and associated facilities as per ICAO standards;  Provision of required works with respect to the existing terminal, along with all  associated infrastructure and facilities to handle operations until the development of the new passenger terminal(s); and  operation and maintenance (O&M) of the passenger terminals (new and existing) during the entire concession  period;  enhancement/development of airside facilities to meet the enhanced scale of operations at the airport over the required duration; and O&M of all enhanced airside facilities, including, the apron, runway and taxiway.      Last July 20, 2014, the NEDA Board approved the expansion of the Laguindingan airport in three (3) phases, 2015-2017 (Phase 1) , 2024-2026 (Phase 2) and 2033-2035 ( Phase 3) under a Public –Private -Partnership (PPP) arrangement valued at P14 billion (B) to include the development, operation and maintenance of the Airport.      On January 24, 2017, an Invitation to Pre-Qualify and Bid for the development and O & M of the Laguindingan Airport was posted in the DOTr, CAAP and PPP center websites.      But on May 22, 2017, DOTr through its General Bid Bulletin 04-2077 addressed to the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee, advised all prospective bidders that the government has decided to pursue the expansion and augmentation of the Laguindingan airport using Official Development Assistance (ODA) or General Appropriations Act ( GAA) funding, hence the PPP process was shelved.      However, DOTr made another turnaround when it informed the Regional Development Council Region 10 (RDC 10) Council Meeting on May 28, 2018, DOTr that the O & M will be undertaken through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).      Then on June last year, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) informed RDC-10 it had allocated a budget of P181.125-million for the expansion of the Passenger terminal building. Despite this assurance, the time-frame for the expansion of the cargo building, runway and other facilities remains to be specified.      Thus, the business sector of Region 10 as represented by the local Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other business organizations were greatly concerned over the increasing volume of inbound and outbound passengers, as a result of the entry of big industries and commercial establishments, new tourism destinations such as theme parks and resorts including meetings, conventions, expositions and tourism events taking place all over the region.       In its resolution spearheaded by Alegrio as PCCI-10 Governor and addressed to DOTr Sec. Tugade dated 11 September 2018, the local Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Northern Mindanao and other business organizations requested DOTr to prioritize the expansion of the Laguindingan Airport by including in its budget allocation for 2019, the construction of a new passenger terminal and cargo building, enhanced airside facilities, including the apron, runway and taxiway within the next five years.      The resolution also stressed the urgency of fast tracking of a new Operations and Maintenance ( O&M) service contract thru the PPP scheme , even as DOTr and CAAP remains responsible for the air traffic, control and air navigation facilities provisioning and operation.      The resolution was signed by the chambers of commerce and industry of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Kaamulan (Bukidnon), Ozamiz and Marawi, the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries (COCI), Cagayan de Oro Hotels & Restaurants Association (COHARA), Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MOFCCII), Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, PhilExport 10, Oro Bankers Association, CDO ICT Council and Cagayan de Oro Travel and Tours Association (COTTA).      In a recent media, Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) Chief Financial Officer Manuel R. Lozano said Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. (AIC) is still awaiting approval from the NEDA for its unsolicited proposal to expand the Laguindingan airport.      Last February 26, the CAAP granted AIC original proponent status (OPS) for its unsolicited proposal to upgrade, expand, operate, and maintain the Laguindingan Airport for a 35-year concession period.      In a statement, the firm said the P42.7-billion project includes capacity expansion through new passenger terminals, installation of required equipment, and enhancement and development of airside facilities.      "The granting of the OPS for the Laguindingan Airport opens up an opportunity for us to play a major role in improving our country's vital gateways. We believe we can be instrumental in connecting our country's local economies, thereby uplifting the lives of Filipinos," Aboitiz InfraCapital chief executive officer Cosette Canilao said. (RMB).

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KBP-Caraga to plant trees

September 4, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur--- Local broadcasters will make good anew what they preached on the airwaves to preserve and protect the environment with the massive planting of trees in the open areas of the mountains on September 7.      This year’s edition of Oplan Broadcastreeing , a nationwide simultaneous tree growing  activity initiated by Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), will draw around 2,600 people from all walks of life in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.      Max Tutor, Chair of KBP Agusan del Sur-Surigao del Sur Chapter, said at least four areas in the neighbouring provinces have been identified for the activity where participants will plant the tree seedlings mostly of different indigenous species.      The areas for the tree planting activities are in Mt. Magdiwata in San Francisco town and the mountainous village of Calaitan in Bayugan City, Barangay Patong in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur and in Bislig City where they already held it in August 25.      Philsaga Mining Corporation will provide some 1,000 seedlings of indigenous species incluing Narra, Yakal and Lauan  with  laborers and transportation while the San Francisco Water District will identify the site and committed for the clearing and land preparation in the Mt. Magdiwata area.      The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office nin Bunawan town will also provide some 300 seedlings of mixed Gmelina specie.      Some 800 people will join in San Francisco, 600 people in Bayugan City , about 500 in Tandag City while 700 joined in Bislig City.      The local government units will support in transporting the tree planters towards the sites especially students in different collegiate private schools are expected to participate.      San Francisco Mayor Solomon Rufila will deliver an environmental message in a short program before they will proceed to the site in Mt Magdiwata. To energize the participants, an early morning zumba exercise will be held in front of the town hall.

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