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G.R. No. 170342 - Allan Dizon v. People of the Philippines

G.R. No. 170342 - Allan Dizon v. People of the Philippines

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 170342 : September 18, 2009]

ALLAN DIZON Y AQUI, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Allan Dizon y Aqui prays for the reversal of the Decision,2 dated 1 September 2005, and Resolution,3 dated 7 November 2005, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00615, which affirmed with modification the Decision,4 dated 11 March 2002, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 75, Olongapo City, in Criminal Cases No. 303-97 to No. 305-97, finding petitioner guilty of one count of simple rape.

The records of the case generate the following facts:

On 19 June 1997, three separate informations5 were filed with the RTC charging petitioner with three counts of rape, thus:

Criminal Case No. 303-97

The undersigned accuses Allan Dizon y Aqui of the crime of Rape, upon complaint under oath filed by AAA6 which is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex "A" committed as follows:

That in or about the month of December, 1996, in the City of Olongapo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and by means of force, and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of AAA, who was seventeen (17) years old, against her will.

Criminal Case No. 304-97

The undersigned accuses Allan Dizon y Aqui of the crime of Rape, upon complaint under oath filed by AAA which is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex "A" committed as follows:

That on or about the twentieth (20th) day of February, 1997, in the City of Olongapo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and by means of force, and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of AAA, who was seventeen (17) years old, against her will.

Criminal Case No. 305-97

The undersigned accuses Allan Dizon y Aqui of the crime of Rape, upon complaint under oath filed by AAA which is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex "A" committed as follows:

That in or about the month of October, 1996, in the City of Olongapo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd designs and by means of force, and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of AAA, who was seventeen (17) years old, against her will.

Subsequently, these cases were consolidated. When arraigned on 5 August 1998, petitioner, assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded "Not guilty" to each of the charges. Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.7

The prosecution presented as witnesses AAA, BBB and Brigida Acuna Navarette. Their testimonies, woven together, bear the following narrative:

AAA, daughter of BBB (mother) and CCC (father), live with her parents in a two-storey house located at No. 26 Bonifacio Street, Barangay Pag-asa, Olongapo City. She and her parents occupied the first floor of the house, while DDD (paternal grandmother of AAA) lived on the second floor. She was born with a harelip/cleft palate, causing her difficulty in speaking. She was enrolled by her parents in school but upon reaching Grade One, she stopped going to school and merely stayed in the house to avoid ridicule from classmates and schoolmates. Although illiterate, she could distinguish right from wrong. She was always left to the care of DDD whenever her parents were at work at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.8

Petitioner and his wife, EEE (niece of CCC), lived in a house also situated at No. 26 Bonifacio Street, Barangay Pag-asa, Olongapo City. Their house was detached from, and positioned at the back of, the two-storey house of AAA and her parents. The said houses were located within the same compound and had the same address.9

On 20 February 1997, petitioner celebrated his birthday in his house. On that evening, AAA, then 17 years old, was in the backyard of their two-storey house. Petitioner called her and told her to proceed to his house. She innocently obeyed. While she was inside his house, petitioner pulled out a knife and told her to remove her shorts. Terrified, she submitted. He then applied cologne in her vagina, into which he then inserted his penis. She felt pain in her vagina. After satisfying his lust, petitioner warned her not to tell anyone of the incident, or he would fight with CCC and create trouble.10

Sometime in April 1997, BBB observed that AAA was physically weak and lonely. She also noticed that her daughter's stomach was becoming bigger. BBB asked her if she was pregnant, but the latter refused to answer. On 21 April 1997, AAA experienced severe abdominal pain. At this juncture, she confessed to her mother that petitioner had raped her. BBB then brought her to the hospital, where the latter was confined and examined by a certain Dr. Lynemir V. Zarbo. After physical examination, Dr. Zarbo confirmed that AAA was pregnant. BBB then reported the incident to the police which, in turn, later arrested petitioner.11

Subsequently, the police requested the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) Lingap Center to assist AAA. Brigida Acuna Navarette (Navarette), social worker and officer of DSWD, proceeded to the hospital where AAA was confined and interviewed the latter about the incident. The victim confided to her that petitioner had raped and impregnated her. Later, a certain Senior Police Officer (SPO) 3 Dominga Olaybar arrived at the hospital and took the statement of AAA regarding the incident. The latter was assisted by Navarette during the taking of her statement. Thereafter, the victim, accompanied and assisted by BBB and Navarette, filed before the prosecutor's office a complaint for rape against petitioner.12

According to AAA, this was already the second time that petitioner raped her. The first one happened inside her house while her parents were not around. The third rape incident took place in petitioner's house.13

The prosecution also proffered documentary evidence to bolster the testimonies of its witnesses, to wit: (1) medical certificate of AAA certifying that she was pregnant (Exhibit A);14 (2) birth certificate of AAA showing that she was born on 7 June 1980 (Exhibit B);15 and (3) sworn statement of AAA regarding the incident (Exhibit C).16

For its part, the defense presented the lone testimony of petitioner to refute the foregoing accusations. No documentary or object evidence was adduced.

Petitioner testified that he and his wife, EEE, lived in a house situated at No. 26 Bonifacio Street, Barangay Pag-asa, Olongapo City. Their house was detached from, and positioned at the back of, the two-storey house of AAA and her parents. The said houses were located within the same compound and had the same address. AAA and BBB were relatives of EEE. Petitioner denied raping the victim on the evening of 20 February 1997 or on other occasions as she alleged. He claimed that he was celebrating his birthday on 20 February 1997 in his house with relatives and friends when the alleged incident occurred. He averred that the family of AAA had an ill motive in accusing him of raping her. He explained that when CCC and his brother-in-law were drunk, the two would call him a "sampid." Also, when he had an argument or misunderstanding with CCC and his brother-in-law, the two would tell him to leave the house and to find another residence. He and EEE refused to leave their house at said address because he had constructed the said house.17

After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision on 11 March 2002 convicting petitioner of simple rape in Criminal Case No. 304-97. The RTC imposed on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The trial court also ordered him to pay AAA the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. However, it acquitted petitioner in Criminal Cases No. 303-97 and No. 305-97 because the prosecution had failed to prove the commission of rapes in said criminal cases.

Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal, to which the RTC gave due course in its Order dated 4 April 2002. In the said Order, the trial court directed the transmittal of the records of the instant case to this Court.18 Subsequently, petitioner submitted his "Appellant's Brief."19 Pursuant, however, to this Court's ruling in People v. Mateo,20 we remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for disposition.

On 1 September 2005, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming with modification the RTC Decision. In addition to the latter's grant of civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00, also awarded by the appellate court were moral damages amounting to P50,000.00 in favor of AAA. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but this was denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 7 November 2005.

Hence, petitioner lodged the instant Petition assigning the following errors:

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING WITH MODIFICATION THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT DESPITE LACK OF EVIDENCE AGAINST PETITIONER;

II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE VERNACULAR "GINALAW PO NIYA AKO" IS SYNONYMOUS WITH RAPE; AND

III.

THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT USING THE STANDARDS USED FOR ADULTS IN ASSESSING THE TESTIMONY OF AAA.

In reviewing rape cases, this Court is guided by three principles, to wit: (1) an accusation of rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.21

As a result of these guiding principles, the credibility of the complainant becomes the single most important issue. If the testimony of the victim is credible, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things, the accused may be convicted solely on the basis thereof.22

We have carefully examined AAA's court testimony and found it to be credible and trustworthy. Her positive identification of petitioner as the one who ravished her on 20 February 1997 (Criminal Case No. 304-97), as well as her direct account of the bestial act, was clear and consistent, to wit:

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. How many times were you - which you said "ginalaw" by the accused Allan Dizon?cralawred

A. Several times.

x x x

Q. Now, you said several times, when was the second time?

x x x

WITNESS:

During the birthday of Allan.

COURT (to witness)

Q. How did you know that it was his birthday?cralawred

A. My cousin told me that it was the birthday of Allan.

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. And where did this incident happen?cralawred

A. Infront of their house.

Q. Is that a lot?cralawred

A. Inside our yard.

Q. Was it in the morning or in the evening?cralawred

A. Evening.

Q. And what did the accused do in this second incident?cralawred

A. Inside his house. He called me.

Q. And what happened after he called you?cralawred

A. He asked me to do something, but he did not ask anything.

Q. After that, what happened?cralawred

A. Ginalaw po niya ako.

Q. And you still remember what you were wearing at the time?cralawred

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What were you wearing at the time?cralawred

A. I was wearing a short.

Q. And what happened to your short?cralawred

A. He told me to take off my short.

Q. Did you take off your short?cralawred

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Why?cralawred

A. Because he was holding a knife. He threatened me.

Q. After you took off your short, what happened?cralawred

A. Ginalaw po niya ako.

Q. Did you feel anything when you said "ginalaw po niya ako"?

x x x

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. What did you feel?cralawred

A. I felt pain.

COURT (to witness)

Q. In what part of your body did you feel pain?cralawred

A. From waist downward.

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. Was there anything inserted in your vagina?

ATTY GUIAO

Objection.

COURT

Sustained.

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. Why did you feel pain on your lower part of your body?cralawred

A. My vagina sustained a wound.

COURT (to witness)

Q. How did you know that your vagina sustained a wound?cralawred

A. When I urinated. I felt pain.

Q. Why did you sustain a wound in your vagina?cralawred

A. There was a blood on my vagina.

x x x

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. Who caused the wound in your vagina?

x x x

WITNESS

Allan.

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. How did he cause the wound?cralawred

A. Because of his penis.

Q. And what about his penis?cralawred

A. He put cologne on my vagina.

COURT (to witness)

Q. After putting cologne on your vagina, what did he do?cralawred

A. Ginalaw po niya ako.

Q. What do you mean by "ginalaw po niya ako"?cralawred

A. He threatened me.

COURT

Continue

x x x

FISCAL (to witness)

Q. Why did the accused threaten you when you said "ginalaw po niya ako"?cralawred

A. He told me not to report the matter. He told me that if I report the matter to my mother, he would fight my father.

COURT (to witness)

Q. How did [he] threaten you?cralawred

A. If I report the matter he would create a trouble.

x x x

Q. And when you said "ginalaw po niya ako," what did the accused do in general?cralawred

A. He took off my panty.

Q. And after the accused took off your panty?cralawred

A. "Ginalaw po niya ako."

Q. With what did he touch you?cralawred

A. My vagina.

COURT (to witness)

Q. What did he do with your vagina?cralawred

A. He inserted his penis on my vagina.

Q. How did you know that he inserted his penis?cralawred

A. I saw it.

Q. What did you feel?cralawred

A. I felt pain.

Q. Why?cralawred

A. When he brought out his penis, I felt pain.23

Well-entrenched is the rule that when a woman says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that the rape was indeed committed.24

It is also significant to note that the RTC gave full credence to the foregoing testimony of AAA, as she relayed her painful ordeal in a candid manner. It found her testimony to be credible and sincere. Jurisprudence instructs that when the credibility of a witness is of primordial consideration, as in this case, the findings of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of the probative weight thereof, as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings are accorded respect if not conclusive effect. This is because the trial court has had the unique opportunity to observe the demeanor of a witness and was in the best position to discern whether they were telling the truth. When the trial court's findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, as in the present case, said findings are generally binding upon this Court.25

Further, BBB and Navarette corroborated AAA's testimony on material and relevant points.

Petitioner, however, maintains that there was no rape because when AAA was asked during the trial what petitioner had done to her on 20 February 1997, AAA merely answered, "Ginalaw po niya ako." Petitioner argues that the phrase "ginalaw po niya ako" does not necessarily refer to carnal knowledge, sexual intercourse, or insertion of the penis in the vagina. It could merely mean kissing or touching a woman's breast or the placing of a penis on a female's private parts. Petitioner asserts that the testimony of AAA should be assessed based on standards used for adults.26

In rape cases, the testimony of complainant must be considered and calibrated in its entirety, and not in its truncated portion or isolated passages thereof.27 The true meaning of answers to questions propounded to a witness is to be ascertained with due consideration of all the questions and answers given thereto. The whole impression or effect of what has been said or done must be considered, and not individual words or phrases alone.28 Facts imperfectly stated in answer to a question may be supplied or clarified by one's answer to other questions.29

Initially, AAA made vague explanations of what she meant by "ginalaw po niya ako." However, subsequent inquiries clarified her statement "ginalaw po niya ako" to mean that petitioner inserted his penis into her vagina, viz:

COURT (to witness)

Q. After putting cologne on your vagina, what did he do?cralawred

A. Ginalaw po niya ako.

Q. What do you mean by "ginalaw po niya ako"?cralawred

A. He threatened me.

x x x

Q. And when you said "ginalaw po niya ako," what did the accused do in general?cralawred

A. He took off my panty.

Q. And after the accused took off your panty?cralawred

A. "Ginalaw po niya ako."

Q. With what did he touch you?cralawred

A. My vagina.

COURT (to witness)

Q. What did he do with your vagina?cralawred

A. He inserted his penis on my vagina.

Q. How did you know that he inserted his penis?cralawred

A. I saw it.

Q. What did you feel?cralawred

A. I felt pain.30 (Emphasis supplied.)

AAA's difficulty in clarifying her statement "ginalaw po niya ako" cannot undermine her credibility. It should be noted that she was illiterate at the time she testified on the incident.31 Hence, her testimony must be treated with the broadest understanding and consideration of attendant circumstances. At any rate, AAA sufficiently explained her statement "ginalaw po niya ako" to mean that petitioner inserted his penis into her vagina. The RTC and the Court of Appeals were, therefore, correct in concluding that what she meant when she said those words was that petitioner raped her.

To rebut the overwhelming evidence for the prosecution, petitioner interposed the defense of denial and alibi. He denied raping AAA and claimed that he was celebrating his birthday in his house with relatives and friends when the alleged incident occurred.

Denial is inherently a weak defense, as it is negative and self-serving. It cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. Alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy to contrive and difficult to prove. It must be proved by the accused with clear and convincing evidence. For alibi to prosper, it is not enough for the accused to prove that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed. He must likewise prove that it was physically impossible for him to be present at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity at the time of the commission of the crime.32 ςηαñrοblεš  Î½Î¹r†υαl  lαω  lιbrαrÿ

In the case at bar, the incident occurred inside petitioner's house on the evening of petitioner's birthday, which was on 20 February 1997. Petitioner testified that he was celebrating his birthday on said date in his house with relatives and friends when the alleged incident transpired. Obviously, he was at the crime scene when the incident happened. Further, if petitioner was indeed in the company of his relatives and friends during the incident and was not raping AAA, then petitioner should have presented as witnesses his said relatives and friends to prove that he was with them and was not committing rape against AAA. Petitioner, nonetheless, did not present any of them as witness. Clearly, the defense failed to prove that he was somewhere else when the incident occurred, and that it was physically impossible for him to be present at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity at the time of its commission.

Petitioner also averred that the family of AAA had an ill motive in accusing him of raping her. He explained that when CCC and petitioner's brother-in-law were drunk, the two would call him a "sampid." Also, when petitioner had arguments or misunderstandings with the two of them, they would tell him to leave the house and find another residence.

Motives such as family feuds, resentment, hatred or revenge have never swayed this Court from giving full credence to the testimony of a rape victim.33 Also, ill motives become inconsequential if there is an affirmative and credible declaration from the rape victim, which clearly establishes the liability of the accused.34 In the present case, AAA categorically identified petitioner as the one who defiled her. Her account of the incident, as found by the RTC, the Court of Appeals, and this Court, was sincere and truthful. Hence, petitioner's uncorroborated and flimsy allegation of ill motive is immaterial.

As the rape was committed on 20 February 1997, the applicable law is Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, otherwise known as the Death Penalty Law, which took effect on 31 December 1993. For the charge of rape under said law to prosper, the prosecution must prove that (1) the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman; and (2) he accomplished such act through force or intimidation.35 In the instant case, the prosecution has sufficiently proven through the positive and credible testimony of AAA, that petitioner had carnal knowledge of her through force and intimidation. AAA categorically testified that petitioner threatened her with a knife, and that he inserted his penis into her vagina.ςηαñrοblεš  Î½Î¹r†υαl  lαω  lιbrαrÿ

Republic Act No. 7659 states that the crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. However, if the rape was committed with the use of a deadly weapon, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. Further, the supreme penalty of death shall be imposed if the rape victim was a minor and the offender was her parent, ascendant or relative. Under the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure,36 which should be given retroactive effect following the rule that statutes governing court proceedings shall be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage, the information must state the qualifying and the aggravating circumstances attending the commission of the crime for them to be considered in the imposition of the penalty.37

The information alleged that AAA was a minor (17 years old) during the incident. Nevertheless, there was no allegation that petitioner was her parent, ascendant or relative. Further, there was no allegation that he raped her with the use of a deadly weapon. Hence, the penalty imposable on petitioner is reclusion perpetua. The RTC and the Court of Appeals thus acted accordingly in imposing on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

As regards the damages awarded and their corresponding amounts, we agree with the Court of Appeals that AAA is entitled to the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 as moral damages. Consistent with prevailing jurisprudence, the victim in simple rape cases is entitled to an award of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 as moral damages.38

In criminal cases, exemplary damages may be imposed on the offender as part of the civil liability when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.39 Nonetheless, it is required that the aggravating circumstance/s be alleged in the information and proved during the trial.40

As earlier stated, the minority of the victim and her relationship with the offender, as well as the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of rape, is an aggravating/qualifying circumstance in the crime of rape. Minority and relationship must both be alleged in the information and proved during the trial in order to be appreciated as an aggravating/qualifying circumstance.41 While the information in the instant case alleged that AAA was a minor during the incident, there was no allegation that petitioner was her parent, ascendant or relative. Also, there was no allegation that petitioner raped AAA with the use of a deadly weapon. Thus, the award of exemplary damages in the instant case is not warranted.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision, dated 1 September 2005, and Resolution, dated 7 November 2005, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00615 are hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

Endnotes:


* Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo was designated to sit as additional member replacing Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura per Raffle dated 16 September 2009.

1 Rollo, pp. 10-29.

2 Penned by Associate Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo with Associate Justices Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Lucas P. Bersamin (now a member of this Court), concurring; rollo, pp. 32-55.

3 Rollo, pp. 95-96.

4 Id. at 57-64.

5 Id. at 98-104.

6 Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004" and its implementing rules, the real name of the victim, together with the real names of her immediate family members, is withheld; and fictitious initials instead are used to represent her, both to protect her privacy. People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 419, 421-426.

7 Rollo, p. 57.

8 TSN, 29 October 1998, pp. 5-20.

9 Id.

10 TSN, 3 September 1998, pp. 2-50.

11 TSN, 29 October 1998, pp. 5-50.

12 TSN, 17 February 1999, pp. 2-8.

13 Id.

14 Rollo, p. 230.

15 Id. at 232.

16 Id. at 234.

17 TSN, 12 October 2000, pp. 3-12.

18 Rollo, p. 45.

19 Id. pp. 236-257.

20 G.R. NOS. 147678-87, 7 July 2004, 433 SCRA 640.

21 People v. Mangitngit, G.R. No. 171270, 20 September 2006, 502 SCRA 560, 572.

22 Id.

23 TSN, 3 September 1998, pp. 29-45.

24 People v. Pioquinto, G.R. No. 168326, 11 April 2007, 520 SCRA 712, 720.

25 People v. Bejic, G.R. No. 174060, 25 June 2007, 525 SCRA 488, 504.

26 Rollo, pp. 20-28.

27 People v. Olarte, 418 Phil. 111, 123 (2001).

28 People v. Jackson, 451 Phil. 610, 627 (2003).

29 People v. Bacus, 411 Phil. 632, 645 (2001).

30 TSN, 3 September 1998, pp. 36-45.

31 Id. at 2-3.

32 People v. Montesa, G.R. No. 181899, 572 SCRA 317, 340.

33 People v. Audine, G.R. No. 168649, 6 December 2006, 510 SCRA 531, 549.

34 People v. Santos, G.R. No. 172322, 8 September 2006, 501 SCRA 325, 343.

35 People v. Ortizuela, G.R. No. 135675, 23 June 2004, 432 SCRA 574, 579.

36 Rule 110, SEC. 8. Designation of offense. - The complaint or information shall state the designation of the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense, and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. x x x.

Rule 110, SEC. 9. Cause of the accusation. The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise language and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances and for the court to pronounce judgment.

37 People v. Salalima, 415 Phil. 414, 428 (2001).

38 People v. Biong, 450 Phil. 432, 448 (2003); People v. Invencion, 446 Phil. 775, 792 (2003); People v. Pagsanjan, 442 Phil. 667, 687 (2002).

39 Civil Code, Article 2229.

40 People v. Tampus, G.R. No. 181084, 16 June 2009.

41 Id.

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