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Dec 07

The Explainer: The vice-presidency: a briefer

The vice-presidency: a briefer

Manuel L. Quezon III

Posted at Dec 07 2016 04:32 AM | Updated as of Dec 07 2016 10:34 AM

This editorial cartoon by the late EZ Izon shows VP Doy Laurel looking at his three predecessors who succeeded to the presidency. With little to do, no wonder veeps are often considered to be angling after the presidency.

John Nance Garner, a two-time U.S. Vice President, once described the job as not worth a pitcher of warm spit. The American humorist Will Rogers said the only job of a veep is to ask, every morning, “Is the president alive?”

In fact, in 1935 delegates in our Constitutional Convention seriously considered not having a vice president at all. In the end, they decided having a spare tire was a prudent idea: and they insisted veeps are elected separately from the president because a successor should have an independent mandate to be considered legitimate.

This meant that from day one, presidents obsessed over the votes they got in comparison to their veeps. But in general at the very least they were from the same party and so, allies. Some were good partners, but on the whole, presidents have viewed their vice-presidents as, at best, temporary political allies and at worst, rivals out to supplant them.

Under our present Constitution, the vice-presidency has been characterized by a combination of old traditions and new dynamics. One post-EDSA phenomenon was formerly conventional wisdom: that any vice-president who split off from a president did so at the risk of plunging in public opinion. Presidents since 1987 have, on the other hand, often focused on neutralizing their vice-presidents and quietly provoking them until they, and not the presidents concerned, would break off and declare a split. It remains to be seen if this conventional wisdom still holds.

(What follows is a briefer that was published in The Official Gazette on the web, but which is no longer available online. I am republishing it because it is a useful reference.)

The Vice President of the Philippines is the second highest nationally elected official in the government.[1] By virtue of the Constitution and as provided for by Republic Act no. 181, the Vice President is second in the line of presidential succession. According to the 1987 Constitution, his or her primary mandate is “to become president,” “in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President.”[2] At the discretion of the president, he or she may also be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet.[3]

Under the 1899 Malolos Constitution, promulgated by President Emilio Aguinaldo, no office of the vice president was formed. Prior to 1899, all previous Philippine governments were temporary or provisional. While the Tejeros Republic[4] (March 22, 1897) and the Republic of Biak na Bato (November 1, 1897), voted for Mariano Trias as vice president, he is not included in the roster of vice presidents.[5]

The Vice Presidency was first conceived during the 1934 Constitutional Convention, modelled after the provisions of the Constitution of the United States. The position of the vice president was originally conceptualized to be a presiding officer for the Senate.[6] However, with the adoption of a unicameral system in the legislature, the Vice President’s role was relegated to become simply a presidential successor.[7] The convention then added a provision that at a president’s discretion, a cabinet post could be given to the vice – president, to remedy the increasing apprehension that the position might otherwise have nothing to do.[8]

The Vice President provision on the first draft of the 1935 Constitution was so strongly opposed by the Cuenco-Morales-Kapunan proposition—initiated by Mariano Jesus Cuenco of Cebu, Luis Morales of Tarlac, and Ruperto Kapunan of Leyte—which opened the provision for debate among the delegates. The opposition argued that the office was an unnecessary expense for the government. They contended that assigning the Vice President as a member of the Cabinet or as a head of an executive department would be impractical, especially in cases when both the President and the Vice President belonged to different political parties. They further proposed that in succession cases, instead of relying on the Vice President, the National Assembly should just choose among the members of the cabinet.[9]

Cuenco, together with Cebu delegate Filemon Sotto, further argued “that if [the vice president] position was created […] in view of the reconciliation between […] Quezon and Osmeña, Mr. Osmeña would be the Vice President and they would again be the underdogs in Cebu.”[10] The opposition believed that the 1935 Constitution should depart from the American precedent, because the vice president position in the United States has been proven to be a fifth wheel.[11]

However, the Cuenco-Morales-Kapunan arguments did not hold up in the final draft of the 1935 Constitution. The defenders of the Office of the Vice President, namely Delegates Exequiel S. Grageda of Camarines Sur, Exequiel M. Santos of Nueva Ecija, and Atilano R. Sinco of Leyte, asserted that the National Assembly lacked the people’s mandate to choose a presidential successor. The Vice President was the only rightful successor to the presidency because he or she was nationally elected by the people, just like the President.[12]

Article VII of the 1935 Constitution defined the roles and responsibilities of the Vice President as follows:

Section 2. […] shall hold his office during a term of six years, and together with the Vice-President chosen for the same term, shall be elected by direct vote of the people. […] The persons respectively having the highest number of votes for […] Vice-President shall be declared elected, but in case two or more shall have an equal and the highest number of votes for either office, the National Assembly shall, by a majority vote of all its Members, elect one of said persons as […] Vice-President.

Section 9. In the event of the removal of the President from office or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-President, and the National Assembly shall by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice-President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed or a President shall be elected.

Section 12. (3) The President may appoint the Vice-President as a member of his cabinet and also as head of an executive department.
In the first national election on September 16, 1935, Sergio Osmeña became the first vice president of our country—that is, the first vice president popularly elected in a nationwide election. Osmeña won against Raymundo Melliza and Norberto Nabong, with 87 percent of the total votes cast going his way. President Manuel L. Quezon originally wanted the vice president to function as a coordinating officer. But Osmeña was concerned about the prestige of the office and wanted the position of Secretary of Public Instruction.[13] This position was a cabinet post previously reserved for Americans, specifically the vice-governor general. President Quezon acceded to this. Furthermore, on April 14, 1939, Osmeña was made part of the Philippine delegation to the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs (JPCPA).

 

When the 1935 Constitution was amended on June 18, 1940, the presidential succession and the portfolio designation clauses for the Vice President were retained. The amendments, however, replaced the term to a maximum of six years for both the President and the Vice President, with a possible re-election for another term. This paved way to the reelection of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice President Sergio Osmeña in 1941. With the sudden invasion by the Empire of Japan in 1941, Quezon and Osmeña established the Commonwealth government-in-exile in the United States.[14]

During the Japanese occupation, the Second Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated under the leadership of Jose P. Laurel on October 14, 1943. When the 1943 Constitution was promulgated, it abolished the position of the vice – president and the executive power was solely vested in the President.[15]

When Osmeña was inaugurated as President of the Commonwealth on August 1, 1944, he did not have a vice president. With the restoration of the Commonwealth government on February 27, 1945, the Amended 1935 Constitution was reestablished.

The position of the vice president was thus vacant until Vice President Elpidio Quirino assumed office on May 28, 1946. In the post-World War II era of the Third Republic, vice presidents were traditionally appointed as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Exceptions were vice presidents Fernando Lopez, who opted to become Secretary of Agriculture, and Diosdado Macapagal, the first president from a party different from the President’s, who was not assigned to any cabinet post. Elpidio Quirino (1946-1950), Carlos P. Garcia (1953-1957), and Emmanuel Pelaez (1961-1963) were concurrently vice presidents and secretaries of foreign affairs.[16] During this period, there were two presidents who, at some point, did not have vice presidents: Quirino, from 1948 to 1949, and Garcia, from March to December 1957.

Lopez, serving his second term as vice president under President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was officially elected to be vice – president until December 30, 1973. However, his term was cut short on September 23, 1972, with Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law. Under Martial Law, the 1973 Constitution was ratified to replace the Amended 1935 Constitutionon January 17, 1973. Under this new constitution, the vice president position was once again abolished. The presidential succession provision was transferred to the Prime Minister, who acted as the chairman[17] of the executive committee. Thus, Article VII, Section 7 1973 Constitution reads as follows:

Section 7. In case of permanent disability, death, removal from office or resignation of the President, the Executive Committee headed by the Prime Minister as hereinafter provided shall exercise the powers of the President until a President shall have been elected and qualified. If the permanent disability, death, removal from office or resignation of the President occurs earlier than eighteen (18) months before the expiration of his term, the Batasang Pambansa shall, within thirty days from the time the vacancy occurs, call a special election to be held not earlier than forty-five days nor later than sixty days from the time of such call, to elect a President to serve the unexpired term.

In the absence of an Executive Committee, the Speaker shall act as President until the President shall have been elected and qualified.

Former Senator Arturo M. Tolentino in his book Voice of Dissent pointed out that this succession provision was confusing. “The Prime Minister was chairman of the Executive Committee and it was the Executive Committee as a body? the collegial executive?that succeeded [the presidency], not its Chairman”. Note that Marcos never revealed who was on the Executive Committee. Tolentino was not convinced that the Executive Committee can substitute for the mandate of the vice presidency. He maintained that the vice- president should be the one “who would succeed the President in the event of a vacancy in the Presidency”.[18][19]

Thus, in the Batasang Pambansa, Tolentino filed Resolution No. 579, proposing for the position of the vice – president to be elected in 1984. According to the resolution, “the vice-president would serve as the Speaker of the Batasan, but might be chosen instead as Prime Minister, in which case the Batasan would elect its Speaker”. On January 27, 1984, a national referendum, pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 643, approved the reestablishment of the vice presidency.[20]

Similar to the Amended 1935 Constitution, the vice president, under the Amended 1973 Constitution, has the same qualifications and term as the President. He / she may also be appointed as a member of the Cabinet, and may also be nominated and elected as Prime Minister. The presidential succession provision, however, was transferred to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

Section 5. In case of permanent disability, death, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall act as President until a successor has been elected for the unexpired portion of the term of the President.

Hence, in the snap Presidential election held on February 7, 1986, the vice presidency was officially won by Arturo M. Tolentino, Marcos’ running mate, former Senator and Assemblyman of Metro Manila. He was sworn in private ahead of Marcos on February 16, 1986 before Chief Justice Ramon Aquino. Tolentino, therefore, became the first vice – president after the re-establishment of the position in 1984. However, Tolentino’s term lasted only for nine days before the EDSA Revolution installed new leadership on February 25, 1986.[21][22] Tolentino, however, was not recognized in our official roster of vice presidents as formalized by Resolution No. 2, s. 2013 dated March 11, 2013, signed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Hence, on February 25, 1986, Salvador H. Laurel assumed the vice presidency with Corazon C. Aquino as president. President Aquino designated Laurel as a prime minister until the position was abolished with the promulgation of the 1986 Freedom Constitution on March 25, 1986.[23] This new constitution reinstated the position of vice president and outlined its roles and qualifications:

Section 4. In case of permanent vacancy arising from death, incapacity or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become President.

Section 5. The Vice-President may be appointed Member of the Cabinet and may perform such other functions as may be assigned to him by the President.

In the 1986 Constitutional Commission (ConCom), the vice president was contemplated to be “essentially a President in reserve.”[24] ConCom delegate Fr. Joaquin Bernas wrote that there was an attempt to outline an additional constitutional function for the vice president but it failed.

Similar to the Amended 1935 Constitution, the 1987 Constitution provided that it is optional for the President to appoint the vice president to a cabinet position.[25] The position of the vice president as we know today was finally outlined when the 1987 Constitution was ratified on February 2, 1987.

Section 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President. He may be removed from office in the same manner as the President.

The Vice President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet. Such appointment requires no confirmation.

Section 8. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term. 

With Laurel, Corazon Aquino restored the pre-martial law tradition of assigning vice presidents as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He, however, resigned from the cabinet post on September 1987, but continued as vice president until June 30, 1992. Macapagal- Arroyo followed the same tradition when she assigned Teofisto Guingona, Jr. as Secretary of Foreign Affairs from January 2001 to July 2007. Other presidents preferred to assign other posts to their vice presidents. Joseph Estrada was Chairman of the Presidential Anti- Crime Committee from 1992 to 1997, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development from 1995 to 2000, and Manuel de Castro Jr. and Jejomar C. Binay Jr. both became Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council.

Fourth Republic
(1981 – 1986)
Salvador H.Laurel
(February 25, 1986- June 30, 1992)
Corazon C. Aquino
Amended 1973 Constitution,   1986 Freedom Constitution,
1987 Constitution
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
(February 1, 1986- September 1987)
Fifth Republic
(1987 – Present)
Joseph Ejercito Estrada
Fidel V. Ramos
1987 Constitution
Chairman of the Presidential Anti- Crime Committee (July
Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo
(June 30, 1998-January 20, 2001)
(Vacant from January to February 2000)
1987 Constitution
Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (July 1995 to October 3, 2000)
Teofisto Guingona
(February 7, 2001-June 30, 2004)
Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo
1987 Constitution
Secretary of Foreign Affairs (January 2001 – July 2002)[29]
Manuel de Castro Jr.
(June 30, 2004-June 30, 2010
Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo
1987 Constitution
Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (September 6, 2004[30] – June 30, 2010)
Jejomar C. Binay Jr.
(June 30, 2010-June 30, 2016)
Benigno S. Aquino III
1987 Constitution
Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (July 22, 2010[31] – June 22, 2015)
Presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (October 16, 2010[32] – June 22, 2015)
Maria Leonor G. Robredo
Rodrigo R. Duterte
1987 Constitution
Chairwoman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
(July 12, 2016 – December 5, 2016)

Throughout history, there have been 13 vice presidents in the country: Sergio Osmeña, Elpidio Quirino, Fernando Lopez, Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Emmanuel Pelaez, Fernando Lopez, Salvador H. Laurel, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Manuel de Castro Jr., and Jejomar Binay.

Of the 13, six became president: Osmeña, Quirino, Garcia, Macapagal, Estrada, and Macapagal-Arroyo. Three vice presidents became president through the demise of their predecessor: Osmeña, Quirino, and Garcia. Three vice presidents: Macapagal, Estrada, Macapagal-Arroyo were elected president in their own right after concluding their vice presidential terms. Macapagal-Arroyo was the only vice president who became chief executive by virtue of her predecessor’s resignation. One vice president, Guingona, was never nationally elected, only appointed (the first under the provisions of the 1987 Constitution).

Sergio Osmeña and Fernando Lopez were the two vice presidents who served two consecutive terms: November 15, 1935, to December 30, 1941, and December 30, 1941, to August 1, 1944, for Osmeña as vice president of Manuel L. Quezon; December 30, 1965, to December 30, 1969, and December 30, 1969, to September 23, 1972, for Lopez as vice president of Ferdinand E. Marcos. Fernando Lopez was the only vice president who served under two different administrations: 1949-1953 as vice president of Elpidio Quirino, and 1965-1969 and 1969-1972 as vice president of Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Ten vice presidents—Osmeña, Quirino, Lopez, Garcia, Pelaez, Laurel, Estrada, Macapagal-Arroyo, Guingona Jr., de Castro Jr.—all served in the senate prior to becoming vice president. Osmeña, Quirino, Garcia, Pelaez, Macapagal also served in the House of Representatives. Osmeña and Garcia also served as governors, while Estrada and Binay have both been mayors and both have been succeeded as mayor by their sons (both served as municipal mayors; Binay is the first city mayor to be elected vice president). Only Estrada, Macapagal-Arroyo, and de Castro among the vice presidents were non-lawyers.

Laurel was the only incumbent vice president to fail in a bid for the presidency. Macapagal-Arroyo was the first child of a vice president to hold the same vice presidential office as a parent. Laurel was the first child of a president to become a vice president.

There were five vice presidents who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs: Quirino, Garcia, Pelaez, Laurel, and Guingona. Fernando Lopez was the first vice president to decline the premier portfolio as a Secretary of Foreign Affairs, opting to be Secretary of Agriculture. Macapagal -Arroyo was the first vice president to opt to be Secretary of Social Welfare and Development. Estrada (Presidential Anti-Crime Commission), de Castro (Urban Housing), and Binay (Urban Housing) were the vice presidents who never headed line departments. Diosdado Macapagal was the only vice president who was not offered any executive appointment at all. In the Quezon War Cabinet, Sergio Osmeña held the combined portfolios of Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare. Osmeña did not have a cabinet post from April 14, 1939, to December 23, 1941. Quezon sent him as a special representative to Washington for the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs (JPCPA), a committee tasked to study trade relations between the United States and the Philippines.[33]

Macapagal was the first vice president who was not the running mate of the elected president. He was also the first vice president elected by plurality (46.55 percent). The highest percentage by a vice president was Osmeña in 1941 with 92.1 percent; the lowest, Estrada in 1992 with 33 percent.

Osmeña (running mate of Quezon), Quirino (running mate of Roxas), Lopez (running mate of Quirino), Garcia (running mate of Magsaysay), Pelaez (running mate of Macapagal), Lopez (running mate of Marcos), Laurel (running mate of Aquino), and de Castro (running mate of Arroyo) all served with party mates or running mates. Macapagal, Estrada, Macapagal-Arroyo, and Binay were the vice presidents elected who were not running mates of the elected president.

From 1935 to 1972, the vice president held office in the Executive Building of the Malacañan Palace. After the position was abolished during martial law, the office of the vice president was occupied by other executive officials. During the New Society and the Fourth Republic, the Prime Minister held office in the old Legislative Building, which was renamed Executive House. Salvador H. Laurel held office there until the building was handed to the National Museum. After which, the Office of the Vice President was transferred to the Philippine International Convention Center. Today, the vice president holds office at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City, which also serves as his official residence. Binay was the first vice president to have an official residence. Lopez was the first president to have an official summer residence in Baguio, the Vice President Cottage.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aruego, Jose M. The Framing of the Philippine Constitution. (Manila:Loyal Press, 1936).

Bernas, Joaquin G. The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, (Quezon: Rex Bookstore, 2003).

Francisco, V.J. The Lawyer’s Journal, (Vol. 23, 1958), p. 80.,accessed on October 14, 2015, link.

Gripaldo, Rolando Jr, “Manuel L. Quezon: A Life led with achievement”, The Technician, Volume 7 (1): 58 – 77, 1998.

The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “The Executive Branch”, accessed on October 15, 2015.

The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Master List of Cabinet Members since 1899”, accessed on October 14, 2015.

The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “The 1943 Constitution”, accessed on October 14, 2015.

The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Executive Order No. 240, s. 1987”, accessed on October 14, 2015.

The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines”, accessed on October 14, 2015.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, “Philippine Electoral Almanac”, accessed on October 14, 2015.

–, The Philippine Government, accessed on October 14, 2016, link.

Quezon, Manuel L. The Good Fight. (Manila: Cacho Hermanos, 1985).

Richardson, Jim. The Light of Liberty: Documents and Studies on the Katipunan, 1892-1897. (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2013).


ENDNOTES
[1] Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Executive Order No. 240, s. 1987”, accessed on October 14, 2015.
[2] Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “
The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines”, accessed on October 14, 2015.
[3] Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines”, accessed on October 14, 2015.
[4] The Presidential Museum and Library, “Tejeros Convention”, accessed on October 15, 2015, http://malacanang.gov.ph/tejeros-convention/.
[5] Jim Richardson, Light of Liberty, 330.
[6] Jose M. Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, (Manila: Loyal Press, 1936), p. 421.
[7] Jose M. Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, (Manila: Loyal Press, 1936), p. 422.
[8] Jose M. Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, (Manila: Loyal Press, 1936), p. 423.
[9] Jose M. Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, (Manila: Loyal Press, 1936), p. 422.
[10] Jose E. Romero, Not so Long Ago: A Chronicle of My Life, Times, and Contemporaries, (Quezon City: Phoenix, 1997), p. 66.
[11] Jose E. Romero, Not so Long Ago: A Chronicle of My Life, Times, and Contemporaries, (Quezon City: Phoenix, 1997), p. 67.
[12] Jose M. Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, (Manila:Loyal Press, 1936), p. 422.
[13] Manuel L. Quezon, The Good Fight, (Manila: Cacho Hermanos, 1985), p. 208.
[14] Gripaldo, Rolando Jr, “Manuel L. Quezon: A Life led with achievement”, The Technician, Volume 7 (1): 58 – 77, 1998.
[15] Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “The 1943 Constitution”, accessed on October 14, 2015.
[16] Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Master List of Cabinet Members since 1899”, accessed on October 14, 2015.
[17] Arturo M. Tolentino, Voice of Dissent, (Quezon City: Phoenix, 1990), p. 616.
[18] Arturo M. Tolentino, Voice of Dissent, (Quezon City: Phoenix, 1990), p. 614.
[19] Arturo M. Tolentino, Voice of Dissent, (Quezon City: Phoenix, 1990), p. 614.
[20] Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, “Philippine Electoral Almanac”, accessed on October 14, 2015, link.
[21] Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “The Executive Branch”, accessed on October 15, 2015.
[22] –, The Philippine Government, accessed on October 14, 2016, link.
[23] The Philippine Free Press Online, “What’s with Doy? October 3, 1987”, accessed on October 21, 2015.
[24] Joaquin G. Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, (Quezon: Rex Bookstore, 2003), p. 809.
[25] Joaquin G. Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, (Quezon: Rex Bookstore, 2003), p. 810.
[26] The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Letter of President Quezon on resignation of Vice- President Sergio Osmeña as Secretary of Public Instructions, April 13, 1939”, accessed on October 21, 2015, link.
[27] The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Official Month in Review: May 1953”, accessed on October 21, 2015.
[28] Mina Roces, Kinship Politics in Postwar Philippines: The Lopez Family 1946-2000, (Manila: De La Salle University Press Inc., 2001), p.126
[29] http://www.gov.ph/official-gazette/lists/cabinet-members-since-1899/
[30] http://www.hgc.gov.ph/abouthgc.html?framepage=abouthistory.html
[31] Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, “Binay’s First Task as Housing Czar: Look into HUDCC Setup”, July 23, 2010, accessed on October 21, 2015.
[32] GMA News Online, “Palace: VP Binay named presidential adviser on OFW concerns”, October 16, 2010, accessed on October 21, 2015, link.
[33] The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, “Manuel L. Quezon, Fifth State of the Nation Address, January 24, 1939”, accessed on October 21, 2015, link.

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