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Sec. Soliman addresses participants of int’l conference on disaster response, calls on better coordination

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman speaks before the participants to the recently held Disaster Response Dialogue Global Conference with the theme "Improving trust and cooperation for more effective humanitarian responses."  In her keynote message, Secretary Soliman stressed the need to come up with an organized, strengthened, and enhanced system of collaboration between government and international partners for a more effective and comprehensive disaster response.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman speaks before the participants to the recently held Disaster Response Dialogue Global Conference with the theme “Improving trust and cooperation for more effective humanitarian responses.” In her keynote message, Secretary Soliman stressed the need to come up with an organized, strengthened, and enhanced system of collaboration between government and international partners for a more effective and comprehensive disaster response. (Photo courtesy of Department of Foreign Affairs)

“In disaster operations, trust is the foundation of an effective working relation.”

This was the thrust of the message of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman earlier this week to the participants of the Disaster Response Government Dialogue Global Conference hosted by the Philippine Government in partnership with the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) which is chaired by Australia.

For her, in the landscape of humanitarian response, trust paves the way for cooperation needed between governments, donor institutions, and non-government organizations implementing approaches and strategies that help rebuild the lives of people affected by disasters.

“The success of any working relationship depends on the ability of different sectors to trust one another,” Sec. Soliman said

With the theme “Improving trust and cooperation for more effective humanitarian responses”, the event was participated in by representatives from international non-government organizations, donor-countries in various disaster operations worldwide, and key persons working in the department/ministry responding to disaster situations from different countries.

‘Yolanda’ experience

Sec. Soliman also shared the Department’s experience during disaster operations for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

She said that the magnitude of ‘Yolanda’s’ destruction was so vast that there was room for everyone to attend. This however created a logjam in attending to the needs of the survivors.

The large number of donors and new actors led to spending at least three weeks in meeting new faces, leveling off expectations, discussing working protocols and setting up procedures among other things.

“The lack of familiarity with each other made it difficult,” she said.

A lesson she shared from the disaster operations was that experiences and expertise will be most effective if practiced with proper understanding, and proper grasp of the context of the situation by those coming in to help.

“The surge of compassion and desire to help expressed by foreign agencies must be balanced with an understanding of the situation and capacities of the country they will support,” she added.

Sec. Soliman suggested that the approach of the donors/international organizations be tailor-fit to the context of the country and should encourage the use of in-country resources.

“We need support for the local agencies rather than bringing in people from foreign offices who have yet to familiarize themselves with the political and cultural climate of the country and the affected areas,” she stressed.

Sec. Soliman also took the opportunity to thank all the institutions, organizations, and countries which helped and continue to help in the relief, recovery and rebuilding of areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

Donation accountability issues

The Secretary also mentioned that the influx of donors at the height of the ‘Yolanda’ disaster operations posed a challenge to the country especially in ensuring that the contributions/donations are effectively utilized.

She also noted that while the financial assistance was overwhelming, a good part of the donation was given outside formal protocols and bypassed procedures and consultation with local authorities in using these to respond to the needs of survivors.

“Most funds from donor-countries in the relief phase went through United Nations agencies and international organizations, yet, the public asked government to account for it,” Sec. Soliman cited.

She said that to avoid this, all UN agencies and international organizations should coordinate officially with the government for a place within the overall coordinated disaster response.

Policy recommendations

As the core objective of the conference, the participants conducted a workshop to come up with policy recommendations for establishing and strengthening a more effective coordination between the disaster-affected country and the international humanitarian aid organizations or donor-countries.

The policy recommendations, which would be further studied, will provide a platform for a better and more effective working relationship towards the important task of rebuilding the lives of the families affected by disasters.

The dialogue was first initiated in 2011 by Switzerland through its Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), and Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to bring together governments and humanitarian organizations involved in international disaster response to improve trust and mutual cooperation. ###

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Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries become active child rights advocates

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino children-beneficiaries Diosa Mae Descalzota and Joshua  Estonilo emceed the program during the kick-off activity of the 22nd National Children’s  Month celebration held at Luneta recently. Both are active child rights advocates.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino children-beneficiaries Diosa Mae Descalzota and Joshua Estonilo emceed the program during the kick-off activity of the 22nd National Children’s Month celebration held at Luneta recently. Both are active child rights advocates.

In a room full of children, 12-year-old Joshua Estonilo, a Grade VI student from Western Bicutan, Pasig City, easily stands out.

Soft-spoken yet articulate, Joshua was chosen as winner of the Search for the Huwarang Bata ng Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The annual search is held in connection with the celebration of the 22nd National Children’s Month with the theme “Bata Kasali Ka, Ikaw ay Mahalaga!”

The theme emphasizes the rights of every child to a meaningful participation in the decision-making processes at all levels including the family, community, barangay, organization, and society.

Joshua said that the award he received fueled his desire to excel even more in his studies and be successful someday.

Recently, he was also chosen as one of the advocates promoting children’s rights.

To prepare for this task, Joshua attended the Training of the Pool of Advocates on Cyber Pornography and Children’s Rights held recently at Bayview Park Hotel.

Organized by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the three-day training honed the speaking and writing skills of  20 selected children recommended by local government units,  residential and community-based centers and facilities managed by local government units and non-government organizations, and schools.


 Joshua receives his award as Huwarang Bata ng Pantawid Pamilya during last year's  Search in NCR.

Joshua receives his award as Huwarang Bata ng Pantawid Pamilya during last year’s Search in NCR.

Doors to opportunities opened up for Joshua  when his family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya,  the government’s flagship poverty reduction program which invests in children’s future by ensuring that they are kept healthy and in school.

A consistent honor student since Grade I, Joshua is the youngest among the three children of Jose and Lina Estonilo of Barangay Western Bicutan, Pasig City.

 “Ang Pantawid Pamilya ang nagsilbing inspirasyon ko upang magsikap ako sa pag-aaral at maging top 1 (The Pantawid Pamilya program served as my inspiration to persevere in my studies and become a top 1 honor student),” he stated.

Moreover, Joshua realizes the importance of education in achieving his dreams.

“Napakapalad ko po at nabigyan ako ng ganitong pagkakataon na makapag-aral sa kabila ng aming kahirapan. Alam ko pong ito ang susi upang makaahon kami sa kahirapan (I am very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to study despite our being poor. I know this is the key so we could get out of poverty),” Joshua said with conviction.


Diosa shows off her talent during the screening of the Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya  child.

Diosa shows off her talent during the screening of the Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya child.

The value of education as a tool towards empowerment and success is also shared by 15-year-old Diosa Mae, from Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City.

 Diosa Mae was also one of the contenders in the Search for Huwarang Bata ng Pantawid Pamilya last year.

Like Joshua, Diosa is a consistent honor student.  A third year high school student, she displays an amazing maturity when she explained how she handles life’s daily grind.

 She considers the trials and hardships that she encounters as part of God’s plan for her, never losing sight of her goal to finish her studies.

With such strength of character, it is no wonder that Diosa was also chosen by CWC as one of the advocates promoting children’s rights.

“Isa sa mga natutunan namin bilang benipisyaryo ng Pantawid Pamilya ay ang manindigan sa aming mga karapatan. Ang pagkakapili sa akin bilang isa sa mga child advocates ay maituturing ko pong isang napakagandang oportunidad upang maipaalam namin sa publiko ang mga karapatang ito  (One of the things I learned as a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya is to stand up for our rights. I consider being chosen as one of the child advocates as a great opportunity to inform the public about these rights),” Diosa said.

Joshua and Diosa are just two of the 10,964,254  million  Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries who now have the chance for a brighter future.

Pantawid Pamilya provides monthly cash grants of P500 for health and P300 per child in elementary or P500 per child in high school with a maximum of three qualified children per household for their educational and nutritional needs. They have to comply to program conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health center for check-ups, and attending Family Development Sessions (FDS). ###

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Healthier life awaits day care kids through feeding program

Children at the Luzviminda Yakap Day Care Center, enjoy their nutritious meal.

Children at the Luzviminda Yakap Day Care Center, enjoy their nutritious meal.

Five year-old Ian Pal is a picture of a healthy, happy child.

He was playful all the time that he and his grandfather, Pedro Pal, Jr., were waiting for their turn to speak before officials and staff of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) during their flag ceremony on Moday at the Central Office in Batasan, Quezon City.

Pedro was to share how Ian become the active child that he is today through the help of the Department’s Sustainable Feeding Program (SFP).

SFP is the provision of food in addition to the regular meals to currently enrolled day care children as part of the DSWD’s contribution to the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Program of the government.

But Ian was not always attentive and healthy, narrated his grandfather. He was frail and sickly until his enrolment at the Luzviminda Yakap Center in Batasan Hills, Quezon City.

Before he was enrolled at  the day care center  in June, Ian only weighed 13 kilos. After three months as a beneficiary of the feeding program, his nutritional status visibly improved, his weight steadily increasing from 13 to 15 kilos.

The feeding program at the center continues enabling Ian to further gain weight and improve his nutritional status.

Asked what his favorite food are, the little boy promptly answered, “Gulay po kagaya ng kalabasa (I like vegetables, like squash),” Ian said.

Strong LGU support

Luisa Figues from the Quezon City Social Services Development Department (QC-SSDD) cited the support being provided by the local government unit (LGU) as instrumental to the program’s success.

Figues said that the Quezon City LGU has value added to the feeding program by providing free uniform, school bags, and schools supplies to the day care pupils.

“Malaking tulong talaga ito sa amin dahil karamihan sa mga pumapasok sa day care center ay mahihirap na bata (This is really a big help to us since majority of those enrolled at day care centers are poor children),” Figues explained.

The LGU also conducts Parent Effectiveness Service (PES) sessions to help parents  become more aware of their critical roles in their children’s development.

On the other hand, seminars on urban gardening  are also conducted  to serve the nutritional needs of the children, ensuring a steady food supply, specifically fruits and vegetables.

“Kung makapagtatanim sila ng mga prutas at gulay sa kanilang bakuran, malaking tulong na ito upang magkaroon sila ng mapagkukunan ng pagkain para sa kanilang pamilya. Maari rin nilang ibenta ang kanilang maaani na dagdag kita para sa kanila  (If they can plant fruits and vegetables in their backyard, this is already a big help to provide food for their families. They can also sell their harvests, which will serve as their additional income),“Figues stated.

Nationwide implementation

To fully implement the SFP, DSWD downloads the funds to each recipient LGU, which shall procure the needed goods with proper supporting documents as required under the existing budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

The LGUs shall take full responsibility in the proper disbursement and liquidation of funds for the program’s implementation.

The program intends to cover more than two million beneficiaries for school year 2014-2015.

In the National Capital Region alone, about 161,528 day care children are currently benefiting from the program.

Convergence to fight hunger

Amid efforts to address hunger and poverty, DSWD partnered with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Agriculture (DA) with technical support from Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme to engage poor households and work closely with the rural communities through the Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP) project.

Under this initiative, the required food items that will be programmed for procurement during the 120 days feeding program will be supplied by existing Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Organizations (ARBO) in the agrarian reform communities (ARC) engaged in food production for their respective day care centers.

This scheme will benefit both the local farmers and the beneficiaries of the feeding program. The PHAP is being piloted in Regions V, VIII, and IX.

“With this program, we are helping solve hunger among young children. This is also part of government’s efforts to change the attitude and behaviour of its beneficiaries instilling in them the willingness to change for the better,” Sec. Soliman emphasized. ###

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DSWD press statement on damaged goods for Mayon evacuees

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) expressed regret over the inclusion of 33 food packs containing spoiled canned goods and expired noodles in the 22,350 food packs distributed to Mayon evacuees over the weekend, adding that they will immediately be replaced so as not to compromise the food needs of the people.

The Department however clarified that it is not 21 sacks as previously reported.

Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that DSWD will investigate why the incident happened when the goods were only newly procured.

She has also ordered the review the agency’s procurement process and its established warehouse, handling, and logistic practices to institute the necessary corrective actions.

Based on the result of the initial investigation conducted by the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), the canned goods got damaged in transit due to the weight and bulk of the relief supplies piled in the trucks.

The Department on the other hand has set to find out with the supplier why there are expired noodles included from the newly purchased goods.

APSEMO still however recognized that there is no perfect delivery, especially of relief goods during disasters.

Sec. Soliman emphasized that DSWD, in coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), remains committed to provide safe food to evacuees for the duration of their stay in evacuation centers.

She likewise indicated that this incident will not happen again in the next relief delivery caravans for Mayon, whose second batch of five trucks carrying 4,050 food packs left DSWD-National Resource Operations Center (NROC) for Legazpi City at 4 am this morning.###

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DSWD extends livelihood aid to family of robbed young pandesal vendor

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is now processing the provision of P10,000 livelihood assistance to the family of the 11-year old pandesal vendor who was robbed of his P200 earnings by still unidentified man in Caloocan City last week.

“The assistance will be released within the week to enable the family to start their own livelihood project so that the boy will no longer have to sell pandesal,”  DSWD Secretary Coarazon Juliano-Soliman said.

The mother of the young boy said that they we will use the livelihood assistance  to put up a burger, fishball, kikiam, and squidball business in front of their house.

Earlier, when DSWD learned about the incident, a social worker immediately went to his house to provide psycho-social to the child to help him cope with the traumatic experience.

DSWD also provided the family with food packs and P2,000 initial financial assistance.

Sec. Soliman also disclosed that his family has been a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary since 2013, receiving cash grants from the government.

The Caloocan City government also offered assistance and will help to pursue the case against the perpetrator. ###

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CCT is an investment on kids’ future, effect on poverty is not immediate—Sec. Dinky

Responding to questions on the impact of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program posed yesterday during the Finance Committee hearing for the proposed budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for 2015, Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that the program is not meant as a poverty reduction effort that will be felt immediately by the poor.

“It is an investment in human capital for the children of the poor to have a fighting chance to be part of inclusive growth,” Sec. Soliman further explained.

Pantawid Pamilya provides monthly cash grants of P500 for health and P300 per child in elementary or P500 per child in high school with a maximum of three qualified children per household for their educational and nutritional needs. They have to comply to program conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health center for check-ups, and attending Family Development Sessions (FDS).

The goal of the program is to send children to school and for them to finish high school to give them a greater chance of getting employed, thus,  breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty in their clans.

“The investment in the children’s education  would only be fully felt ten years from since the program started, when the children have graduated and have been gainfully employed,” Sec. Soliman said.

The investment in health, on the other hand, would ensure that children are healthy and capable of finishing their studies.

Sec. Soliman stressed that Pantawid Pamilya is contributory to poverty reduction but is not the lone solution.

“We are also providing entrepreneurial support to beneficiaries through capital assistance and capability building as an exit strategy to prepare them to start their own sources of livelihood after the program,” Sec. Soliman said.

Overhead costs

Explaining the 11 % increase in the overhead costs of the program, Sec. Soliman said that some P8.5 billion is being proposed to pay the salaries of contractual employees who will facilitate FDS and manage special cases that local DSWD offices would be unable to perform.

It will also cover a study to assess the impact of the program.

The amount is P3.5 billion higher than last year’s P5 billion overhead cost.


Sec. Soliman said that the CCT budget of P64.7 billion is at its peak in 2015 and 2016 as the Department moves toward achieving its 5.3 million target beneficiaries.

The Secretary, however, disclosed that after the Aquino Administration, the budget will slowly taper off as some 25,000 beneficiaries  are expected to exit from the program next year.

To date, there are  4,332,411 households enrolled in the program. ###

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Pedals of hope

Helen and kids try the brand new trisikad her family received from DSWD.

Helen and kids try the brand new trisikad her family received from DSWD.

Valle Hermoso, Negros Oriental- After losing her husband in a fatal accident four years ago, Helen Balasabas Ombrero, 47, has doubled her efforts to fulfill her responsibilities to her six children.

Such is  a huge task for a petite mother who stands 4’10 tall, but Helen is not complaining.

Helen earns a living by doing farm duties like tilling the field and planting corn and root crops. She also collects fire woods she can sell.

Helen only earns an average from P100 to P150 a day, clearly not enough for her family’s daily needs. Her income doing farm duties could not also suffice for her to send all her children to school.

Another setback, Helen shared, is when she has to take care of anyone of her children  when he or she gets sick. This would mean sacrificing a day’s work in order for her to attend to her sick child.

The family also lost their house in a fire last year, which has worsened the family’s living conditions. After the incident, some of Helen’s kids were even seen begging on the streets.

Gains from Pantawid

Helen saw hope when she became a member of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program because she now receives cash grants that help her send Susan, 15, and Myrna, 11, to school.

Pantawid Pamilya is one of the core poverty reduction programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that focuses on human capital investment through the provision of health and education cash grants to eligible poor households.

According to this town’s municipal link Emmalinda Alarcio, Helen has been actively joining Pantawid Pamilya Family Development Sessions (FDS), which had improved her views in life as she became more aware of her responsibilities towards her children.

FDS is a gathering of 25-35 parent-beneficiaries, as part of the program conditionalities which they should comply to continue receiving the cash grants, where they discuss topics that aim to strengthen and enhance their parental roles.

Livelihood support

Helen’s optimism remained high, especially that her family was among the 31 recipients of brand new trisikads provided by DSWD through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

SLP is a community-based capacity building program that seeks to improve the socio-economic status of program participants. It is implemented through the Community-Driven Enterprise Development (CDED) approach, which equips the program participants to actively contribute to production and labor markets by making use of available resources and accessible markets.

The beneficiaries of the brand new trisikads are members of the Vallehermoso Trisikad Association (VALTA). A trisikad is a regular bicycle mounted to a sidecar costing P9,345.

“Mapasalamaton kaayo ko nga nakadawat ko niining bag-o nga trisikad kay akong bana sauna usa ka trisikad driver. Samtang nagpa-abot kos akong kinamagulangang anak nga tua pa sa Cebu ako lang usa ang mugamit niini para naa me panudan  (I am very grateful with this new trisikad because my late husband used to be a trisikad driver. Now, we have our own trisikad. In the meantime, I will be the one to drive this to earn a living while waiting for my second child to arrive from Cebu),” Helen said.

Moreover, Helen is also optimistic that she can send her other kids to school now that they no longer rent a trisikad.

During the turn-over ceremony, the President of VALTA, John Anog, vowed that they will take care of the trisikads adding that members have agreed to pool in P20 from their income as monthly dues for maintenance.

The group also plans to acquire more units to help other members of the organization get their own trisikads.

Bobby Fat, 41, who is also a recipient of trisikad, expressed his deep appreciation because he had longed wish of buying his own unit.

Aside from being a trisikad driver, Bobby also does farming to support his five children.

DSWD- Field Office VII Director Mercedita Jabagat graced the turn-over rites together with Mayor Joniper Villegas, and Angelo Tiongson representing Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

Dir. Jabagat encouraged the beneficiaries to make good use of the units as they are the first in the region to have received such aid.

“I hope the next time I visit here, the trisikads are still in good condition. I also challenge VALTA to set an example for other groups to follow,” she said.

The Field Office will also implement the project in other towns in the region, which were hit by Typhoon Yolanda. ###

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DSWD, NDRRMC turn over relief supplies to Albay

DSWD Sec. Soliman (center) with (from L-R) DENR Sec. Paje, DOH Sec. Ona, DILG Sec. Roxas turning over relief supplies to Elenita Olandes, one of the evacuees from Guinubatan, Albay. Witnessing the turn-over are Albay Governor Salceda and Guinubatan Mayor Ongjoco.

DSWD Sec. Soliman (center) with (from L-R) DENR Sec. Paje, DOH Sec. Ona, DILG Sec. Roxas turning over relief supplies to Elenita Olandes, one of the evacuees from Guinubatan, Albay. Witnessing the turn-over are Albay Governor Salceda and Guinubatan Mayor Ongjoco.

Guinobatan, Albay -  Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman flew here over the weekend to witness the turn over of food packs and other relief supplies to Albay Province.

The relief supplies were brought to this town through the Ligtas Mayon Caravan organized by the DSWD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on October 11.

The caravan which carried some P9.4-million worth of relief supplies composed of

food packs, malong, mosquito nets, mats, water containers, hygiene kits, and medicines, reached this town early Sunday morning, October 12. A  blessing ceremony was held before these were turned over.

It was followed by a ceremonial distribution of relief supplies to selected evacuees with Sec. Soliman and other cabinet secretaries, namely: Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Health Sec. Enrique Ona, Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, witnessing the activity.

Sec. Soliman emphasized that the caravan was made possible through the cooperation of member agencies of the NDRRMC.

“We not only want the evacuees to be safe but also to be comfortable and have enough food in their stay in the evacuation centers,”  Sec. Soliman said.

For his part, Sec. Roxas shared that it was President Aquino’s desire to ensure that the needs of the evacuees are addressed.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, on the other hand, expressed his thanks to the national government saying, “The food packs are more than enough to augment the daily needs of the evacuees especially now that PHILVOCS has warned of an explosive Mayon eruption anytime.”

“This is a reflection that the national government genuinely cares for the people,” Gov. Salceda added.

Meanwhile, Guinobatan Mayor Ann Yap Ongjoco expressed her gratitude to the national government for being pro-active.

Evacuees also expressed their gratitude to the national government for not neglecting them.

Arlene Mar, 55, an evacuee from Barangay Muladbucad said, “Mula noong unang araw pa lang na kami ay nandito, hindi nagkulang ang DSWD sa pagbigay ng suporta at assistance  (From day one that we were brought in the evacuation center, DSWD has never failed to extend its support and assistance).”

The cabinet secretaries visited an evacuation center here and in Camalig where they interacted with the evacuees. ###

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Summary of Foreign and Local Donations
As of October 20, 2014 (8:00pm)

P98,504,441.87 - Local Donations

USD23,784,101.78 - Foreign Donations

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