Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 45


more articles...

How could the 'Maguindanao massacre' been allowed to happen?

OB listing by the military in Northern Samar exposed

Message of MGen. Arthur I. Tabaquero during the signing of Manifesto Against Violence

MGen. Arthur Tabaquero’s response to the open letter of Atty. Kathrina Castillo

Press Statement of the City Government of Catbalogan on cityhood issue

Where will a Tacloban HUC get its water supply?

Military terrorizes residents of San Jorge, Western Samar and San Jose de Buan, Samar

When peace is an elusive victim

The internet reaction on the wrath of Santo Niño

RP government’s report to the UPR inconsequential to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances




Electric Vehicles will end Climate Change

December 23, 2009

From the early articles about the conference in Copenhagen on Climate Change, I read that the main focus was to market electric cars because with the explosion of China, India, and even Brazil now developing an automobile industry of more than 2 billion consumers wanting self-owned automobiles so imagine in just 5 years if the working class in those three countries bought regular gasoline or diesel engines for their private use to go to work every day or shopping on weekends.

Photo by Voltaire Domingo / NPPA Images / PNSIntroduction of unleaded gasoline (In the United States from January 1, 1996; the Clean Air Act banned the sale of leaded fuel for use in on-road vehicles) and the catalytic converter – a device used to reduce the toxicity of emissions from an internal combustion engine reduced air pollution, but according to the conference it is not enough to prevent Global Warming destruction.

The need to market electric vehicles cannot be mandated with legislation. It would destroy the world economy. Private industries must take the initiative to provide price-competitive models for consumers wanting transportation that would save the planet.

The Philippines with the Electric Jeepneys on the road is on the right path, but more entrepreneurs are needed for the self-owned transportation markets like electric automobiles and electric motorcycles.

Take those really small electric cars and remove the roof and you can have an electric TRIROTA, an electric motorcycle with three wheels, Trirota Motors. With our typhoon seasons, I would want the roof.

You Filipino college kids graduating in April or May, the AYALA GROUP are building communities where you can go to school and work and live and shop and recreate without the need for cars or motorcycles.

It was called the University of Missouri college campus when I was eighteen, but dormitories instead of high rise condominiums with a Catholic Church, school, and shopping malls. But today I would need airline tickets to go to the Texas Bowl to watch Mizzou against Navy instead of walking for thirty minutes to Tiger Stadium to recreate with fifty-yard-line tickets so I believe it is possible.

There was even a McDonalds on campus for breakfast before taking a test: a sausage McMuffin, hash brown, and ice tea with no ice. I use to dream that, but the dormitory cafeteria food was already paid for.

The Ayala Group developments might be in various parts of the country, and you can save the money from your first full-time job by walking and using public transportation, ELECTRIC JEEPNEYS (Bacolod, Cebu, and Metro Manila). Micro-financing jobs! Investing probably.

Mass production of electric cars flooding the markets will reduce carbon emissions ALL OVER THE WORLD, but it will also increase consumption of electricity once traveling the roads, streets, and highways.

Developing Countries cannot meet the current output for demand for electric power now causing power outages with over usage. Many towns and villages of poor nations do not have electricity for every household, schools, and business buildings. But the major cities of developing nations and the majority of the developed nations accused of Climate Change can adequately provide electricity for dwellers and would likely meet the increase demand consumed by electric automobiles.

For areas in the Philippines far away from the metropolises, I prefer Solar Energy. The argument against Solar Power is that the city drinking water will be depleted to provide electricity for millions of users.

A supplemental source for individual buildings with solar technology would at least provide electricity throughout the country, individually. The rooftops of buildings can collect rainwater needed to use to create the electricity providing an outdoor solar generator with power to provide electricity for a house.

Taipei 101 (Taipei Financial Center) in Taiwan has plans on being "the world's tallest green building" with solar power technology with a rooftop rainwater collection to provide the building with electricity so surely a one story cement molded Spanish-designed three-bedroom house for retirement in the Philippines can also have electricity from the sun.

Picture the entire concrete land of former gasoline stations covered with a roof of solar panels or solar technology to charge generators that will recharge electric vehicles. You have a warehouse with solar technology on the rooftop providing a recharge station for electric motorcycles, electric buggy cabs (electric golf carts with motorcycle wheels), electric automobiles, electric jeepneys, and electric commercial busses providing mass transportation for people that do not want an automobile running on fossil fuel.

Rice farmers can continue living using candles for light at night, coconut shell charcoal to cook with, and an electric buggy for the wife to shop at the nearest municipality after taking her children to school.

All that is needed is for an entrepreneur to sell the electric engines to turn four wheels and recharge technology safe during monsoon rain because the mechanics that handcraft our tricycle cabs can easily outfit a buggy around that electric engine. Total cost with labor around 80,000 Philippine Pesos and the locals here in Gubat would not miss fossil fuel.

Daniel Escurel Occeno is a writer for children in the Philippines. 





A repeated police failure

December 19, 2009

Extreme justice is extreme injustice. – Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator and statesman. De Officiis

The regional leadership of the Philippine National Police must look into the reasons exactly what it’s taking so long for police officers in Samar to arrest persons wanted for criminal cases.  It’s always a big question mark, why police officers can’t execute arrest warrants even when such officers are strongly believed to know enough of the circumstances of the wanted persons, such as their birth places.  Such strong belief develops from a fact that most police officers assigned in a town are original natives and have long been, and still are, residing in that town.  This is worsened by the fact that some of those wanted are known to civilians to be present, alive and often visiting places within the town, after a short period of time of having gone outside of the town to hide and elude arrest, notably in Tacloban, Manila or Cebu.

Of course, this murmur is not overheard only in Samar island.  It is also true in Leyte, and in Tacloban.

According to a source, one tall but lanky person who committed a crime while working for the National Food Authority and became a fugitive from justice during the early martial law years, disguising sometimes as a bombay (wearing a turban and growing beard), returned only recently to Tacloban with a tall tale of having been free all the time.  Another source said that one who had long been suspected to be a big-time illegal drug trader and left his home had lately been visiting his expensive home in a barangay very the downtown section of Tacloban.

In Basey, there are those who were ordered by one court to be arrested more than eight years ago. Some of them were being made to pay for the damages caused upon one whom they forced to convey on a motorcycle late one rainy night and abandoned without paying for the ride when the motorcycle slid while climbing up an eely slope leading to the riders’ barrio.  The victim, up to now, feels a painful leg that was recommended for amputation due to a grave injury and continues taking in medicines and applying medications recommended by government and private doctors.  Two of the riders were often seen either in the town proper or in some barrios, unmolested by the police.

There are other unsolved crimes. Unsolved, because the police officers do not arrest the perpetrators.

A few years ago, a snatcher who lived in the slum area by the seaside at the northern section next to Tacloban’s old bus terminal, was brought on civilian arrest power to the police station.  An officer in the police station asked for the snatcher’s immediate release because the snatcher was “our asset”.  An “asset” is any civilian person whom the police authorities use to surveil operations of snatchers, holdup men, thieves and other criminals and to identify suspects of crimes.  That asset who was caught in flagrante delicto spent the mandatory detention hours in the station, but the officer who stood up in his defense suffered due embarrassment.

Not every police officer deserves his badge.  Among them are scalawags not so unlike the scalawags during the Elpidio Quirino presidency years up to the short-lived regime of a Estrada administration.  The worst scalawags among them are themselves the masterminds of crimes and criminal syndicates.  Some of them are willing (bad cops for hire) tools of politicians and those who behave as though they are somebody higher than the laws of the land – and there are deplorably many of them around the Philippines.  Unless they are removed and duly punished, there will be rebels.  They may not be existing members of the communist party of the Philippines or of the New People’s Army or of the armed national democratic front, or any extreme leftist organization.  They could be anybody who gets fed up with what can be observed among the bad eggs in the police.

And I say this emphatically.  There are more good police officers than the bad ones.  Yet, the civilians do not find it easy to haul them out of the police service.  Yet, too, fellow officers themselves know “according to the best of their knowledge and belief” who are those among their peers and seniors who are doing evil and criminal acts, except that they just don’t react.

That is why when I looked into the website of detained general Danny Lim, who filed his certificate of candidacy for senator, I firmed up my own personal belief that indeed there are those who are worthy of the police uniform who want to cleanse the police ranks of corrupt and abusive police officers.  Some of those who have thrown up their support for Danny are one with him in weeding out the corrupt and the abusive.  The only problem is visitors of Danny’s website would not yet know with certitude when will this happen and who will lead in the crusade at every police station level.

The “Kelguy” contributor that I featured in Insight last December 10 had many things to say about the good and the bad police officers.  His years of being an immigrant to the Philippines had enabled him to witness how the police work and behave.  I even surmise that, compared to any ordinary Filipino citizen presently living in our country, Kelguy has a much better frame of reference for his criticisms against the police, and his accolades (where due) likewise.

Yes, some police officers are suspiciously living in luxury.  Viewing how poverty is like in the world of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao and elsewhere in Mindanao, one become quizzical about how ordinary police officers have become richer than when they were during their first two years in active police service.  There are scanty rumors about a policeman winning in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes lotteries, but there is more talk about some policemen winning in the illegal lotto, or the jueteng, or masiao, or getting hefty weekend bonuses from un-arrested illegal numbers games operators as they are either partners of the financiers if they are not themselves the operators, or they are the gambling protectors.

(By the way, the word scalawag, or scallywag is given this meaning: mischievous person: a rascal or scamp Scalawag is thought variously to derive from the name Scallaway of Scotland's Shetland Islands, or from an obsolete Scots word scallag, "a farm servant." Its first recorded appearance in the United States is understood to be 1848, with the spelling scalaway. In western New York State a scalaway meant "a mean rascal." During Reconstruction a scalawag referred to a Caucasian southern operative who assisted the federal government in implementing its policies throughout the South, often profiteering in the process. But its earlier political meaning, first recorded in 1862, was "an intriguer, especially in politics." - Microsoft® Encarta® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else. – Tumblebugs.





An insight from ‘Kelguy’s’ comments

December 10, 2009

This Thursday, I was amazed to find out that “Kelguy” or “Kelly Guy” [very obviously an American long residing in the Philippines and based in Tanauan, Leyte although married to a Samarnon, I would suppose (based on his reactions), and an avid reader and reactor-contributor to the feedback section of that is maintained by now world-famous webmaster Engr. Ray P. Gaspay, president of Catbalogan Cable Television Media Advocates Nucleus (CCATMAN)] does read and study a lot about the Philippines, in addition to his own personal observations about what is happening in  the Philippines, including the New People’s Army activities in Samar.  When the United States of America got a blow from critic “Domingo de Ramos” of Catarman, capital town of Northern Samar, Kelguy came out with a severe lecture, citing Philippine “protectional” Constitutions and provisions in the past and present fundamental laws of the Philippines.  My astonishment extended to a find that this Kelguy also reads the website which is very particular with laws and Supreme Court decisions.  Both the aspect of constitutional law and’s world are my favourite research itineraries, that’s why I can relate to Kelguy’s basis of logical thinking.

“Please don't take this as any form of verbal / text abuse. I just disagree with your logic. I could go through all of the Constitutions and demonstrate where it is our Government, elected or appointed officials, along with the Laws that have been generated and enacted that have us in the position we are in today. As long as people are willing to vote with their wallets vs. their educated minds, the whole viscious cycle is destined to repeat. When everyone realizes our problems start and end at the ballot box, then and only then will things get better.” – Kelguy

Our own people in the Philippines, especially Leytenhon and Samarnon, should aspire to become like Kelguy – one who reads a lot about the Philippines.  From readings about our own country, every Filipino could articulate strongly, accurately, emphatically, convincingly, and effectively.  Since the internet is far inexpensive than renting old books or buying new ones, or borrowing at the risk of returning the borrowed books already with pages missing from careless skimming, I would advise – when other resources are not possible and feasible – a reach-out through the internet.

Additionally, I found out that Kelguy appears to be very conversant, not only with the goings-on and idiosyncrasies in his own native country that is America but also with history even where America has not been an actor.  To be adept in historical research and reasoning is to equip one ready with reliable information.  Kelguy, if he is across a table in a conversation with anyone or a group, could just be likened to a walking encyclopedia, an attribute of a wide reader and at the same time one who has a deeply reliable and working memory power.

Yes, I do remember that I once was described or referred to as a “walking encyclopedia” and a “walking dictionary” during my college activism years within the then most prestigious academic institution in Cebu City – the Southwestern University (where many fellow Basaynon and Leytenhon studied and graduated between 1966 and 1974 [1974 was the last year that I spent in Cebu] – but, after having been “de-briefed” by the military (during my detention in Lahug, and during my release-under-surveillance [which continued until 1981), and during my employment years under the martial rule of President Ferdinand E. Marcos), I soon found out I was losing a lot of what past years of study siphoned into my brain.

Kelguy’s comments – no matter how truly harsh they often seem to Filipinos who are averse to Americans and American interventions in the Philippines and in the lives of Filipinos, whether in the Philippines or anywhere abroad!! – could help enrich one’s own repository of knowledge and enlighten Filipinos on many things about history.  I surmise his working memory power does it.

A good memory builds confidence even for those who can learn new information and new knowledge when dished out from that memory bank.  I remember now, some students, even from such schools in Cebu City as Colegio de San Jose Recoletos, San Carlos University, University of Southern Philippines, Cebu Institute of Technology and especially the University of the Visayas (where most learners enroled from Leyte and Samar!! even up to today for quick master’s degree conferment!!) used to come to me especially between 1968 and 1972, either at the SWU student publications office or the office of dean Ricardo Gabuya or at 9-C Maples Apartment on Ascencion street where a famous two Rama families lived, to seek for information most of which could actually be found in history books, encyclopedia and dictionaries (English, Tagalog, Spanish, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray).  Among those who came became a lawyer and an undefeated lawyer while another became a successful American citizen.

Having lost so much of that power, today, I am retreading the pathways to learning, little by little.  I have to do that, with some practice at memorizing, because with an ageing age, I have been noticing that my memory has been failing me for many years now.  I thus have for years now been reading material on Alzheimer’s disease, one disease afflicting the brain that struck my mother-in-law after 40 years of making the best dresses via the former Nelly’s Dress Shop at Salazar St. in Tacloban until she gave up herself to Our Creator in the early morning of May 27, 2007 while I was doing my research on the mysterious threat via the computer at a room opposite hers.   (Ah, my frequent rudiment at memorizing... it’s the game known as Pairs that is built into my cellular phone, that’s why no matter how old and obsolescent is my model mobile phone, I don’t want to part with it, and that’s why no matter how many times my now two years old grand daughter drops it to the floor, I still use that memory tool.)





Don’t’ be afraid to junk RH bill

December 8, 2009

DEMOCRACY is freedom in search of inspiration. It waits to be given substance, meaning, orientation and direction. By itself, it simply is a mold, a system that requires a lifeblood to warm up and start functioning. It needs to be given life.

So it depends on the vital elements of the citizens that have it – how they are as a people, their culture, their history, their beliefs and aspirations, their sense of life and purpose, etc. These get factored in and eventually get integrated into one workable whole through the democratic processes.

It can only be perfect to the extent that the people involved in it are. It reflects and mirrors them. But it can also project and mold them. It collects the sentiments of the people, but it can also cause other sentiments too, generating a kind of spiral that is open-ended.

That is why we have to take care of it. Democracy needs to be guided, and we the people involved, especially our leaders, should keenly feel the responsibility for it.

Relevant to all this, let me quote some lines from John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus, kind of dense but I must say all worth it. Let’s bear with it. Here it goes:

“Authentic democracy is possible only in a State ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person.

“It requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the ‘subjectivity’ of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility.”

Then it warns us of a clever attitude that actually undermines authentic democracy.

“Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life.

“Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is a determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends.

“It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power.

“As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” (46)

In the current debate for the RH bill that now exposes a few Catholic leaders not quite in step with Church teaching and discipline, this subtle anomaly of democracy distorted by agnosticism, relativism and the mere majority rule emerges.

It is argued that one just cannot be completely for or against it, since there are many good things about it and a few questionable elements, and that the Catholic Church just cannot have its “Humanae vitae” legislated because of the separation of Church and state.

There are a lot of misrepresentations in these claims, gratuitous short-cuts to favor precisely the questionable elements in the bill. This bill has already been scrutinized by many bishops and leaders in the Church and the consensus has been that it is a dangerous bill.

Of course, the bill is crafted to appeal to democratic sentiments – nothing wrong about that – but given the context in which it was created and developed, it will require complete naivete and an almost invincible ideological bias not to see the danger it poses on people’s morals as understood from Church doctrine.

At the very least, that bill is highly divisive. And so if only for that reason alone, it should be dumped. It’s actually not needed.

The good things it contains can continue to be done without the law. And the bad things it contains can also be done. No one can stop anybody from doing it. Just don’t make it a law.

Let’s conclude with some words of St. Paul addressed to those who tend to make exceptions from Church teachings. From his letter to Titus, we have some relevant points:

“Speak the things that become sound doctrine….In all things show good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” (2,1ff.)

After all, democracy, while respecting pluralism, should also carry the bedrock foundations of a people’s beliefs. Dialogue and consensus-making are no excuse to sideline the faith. One’s faith is nothing to be ashamed about in public fora.

This is not a call for fanaticism. Rather, it’s for democracy to be properly inspired.





The Withdrawal of Support of Rep. Nikki Prieto-Teodoro on the Reproductive Health Bill

Media Statement by the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc.
4 December 2009

We, supporters of the reproductive health bill, are appalled with the sudden withdrawal of support of Rep. Nikki Prieto-Teodoro, wife of Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential aspirant Gibo Teodoro, on reproductive health.

We can only surmise one simple and plain reason: in search of ways to increase Gibo’s popularity and enhance his “winnability” in the coming elections, Rep. Teodoro decided to drop the RH bill like a hot potato expecting that support from the Catholic hierarchy for his husband’s presidential candidacy will follow.

Dismayed over the confusing statements made by Rep. Teodoro, we were compelled to answer some of the issues she raised.

She said she would rather spend the country’s meager resources in directly feeding the poor, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the poor and educating them.  In a country where 50% of families consider themselves poor, 2.9 million families experienced hunger and did not have anything to eat in the last 3 months, 4.5M Filipinos are homeless, and 40% of the youths are out of school, we ask: how can the government, with its meager resources, support a ballooning population which has reached 92.2 million this year.

Contrary to her claim that House Bill 5043 is “defanged and toothless” in addressing her key advocacies which are food, shelter, education and clothing for poor Filipino children, passage of the RH bill will in fact help address these needs.

The reproductive health bill is a pro-poor legislation. It will ensure a strategic balanced approach on population and development issues.  The bill will help couples to plan the family size that they want, address unmet need on family planning, thus ensuring quality education and health for their children.

Experiences of other East Asian countries have shown that development is brought about by correct governance; effective economic, education, and health programs; and reproductive health and family planning policies.

Rep. Teodoro’s claim that majority of maternal deaths are caused by the lack of proper medical facilities and care and that the reproductive health bill does not address this lack of basic health care services, is baseless.  Improving maternal health is one of the main components of HB 5043.  Eleven mothers die of childbirth and pregnancy complications everyday.  With modern technology, nearly all maternal deaths can be preventable.

However, the problem lies in poor women not being able to plan their pregnancies, unavailability of emergency obstetric care, pre and post natal care and skilled birth attendants during actual deliveries.

The National Statistics Office reveals that only half of all Filipino mothers are aware of danger signs of pregnancy-related complications and where to go in case of complications.  HB 5043 establishes a reproductive health program that includes accessible and affordable maternal health care services.  Specifically, it mandates local governments and public health facilities to employ adequate number of midwives or other skilled attendants.  It also ensures the establishment and operation of hospitals with quality emergency obstetric care, and regular review of maternal deaths.

We however agree with her that it is our impoverished children who suffer the most; that children’s innocence is broken because they have to struggle to meet their basic needs.  Indeed, our children are the ones suffering due to lack of political will and integrity of our lawmakers and government leaders.

We are dismayed that Rep. Teodoro’s latest pronouncement on reproductive health runs contrary to her claim as defender of the rights of children.  Even the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends to the Philippine government to adopt the Reproductive Health bill in order to ensure access to reproductive health counseling and provide all adolescents with accurate and objective information to prevent teenage pregnancies.





From primitive to sophisticated barbarianism

December 1, 2009

WE seem to be swinging from one outrage to another these days. In the local scene, we just had that shocking massacre in Maguindanao. Everything in it was just unspeakable. Is it still possible to have such brutality at this stage of our national life?

This looks like our version of America’s 9/11 carnage. The deliberate malice put into it, the conscience-less killing of everyone in the group irrespective of whatever, in short, barbarianism in its distilled form, is simply too much for an average heart to bear.

I normally don’t like to talk about this kind of events. Silence is a preferable option if only to lighten the ugly scenario. Talking adds fuel rather than douses water to the sickening situation. But this one grates at the guts and one simply has to instinctively react.

Let’s pray that this incident will yield us tremendous lessons we need to learn quickly and permanently. Let’s remain positive and hopeful! Let’s do everything to make this a thing of the past, never to happen again in the future.

But as if this black-eye to humanity is not yet enough, we also are now witnessing another form of barbarianism in the world stage, perpetrated by highly educated people, the elite of the world of sciences and technology, the cutting-edge in human knowledge, but, sadly, not much more.

Lately it has been discovered by hacking the computer of the Climate Research Unit of Britain’s University of East Anglia that many of the data made to support all this hysterics about global warming and climate change are not all true.

Some important data, significant to the issue but contrary to their position, have been dumped, and there appears a massive and systematic effort to manipulate the public to believe in their assertions. More and more shenanigans are now exposed. What the hell is this!

Though there are many global warming skeptics who also are scientists, these have been effectively sidelined and projected as obstructionists to what they call as obvious pieces of evidence of global warming.

Al Gore, the self-appointed patriarch of this group, managed to make the film, “The Inconvenient Truth,” that mesmerized a lot of people and won him a Nobel Prize. I heard that he is raking in a lot of moolah!

But the first time I heard about global warming, I checked the relevant write-ups in the Internet, and while I followed the arguments of the supporters, I was also aware that there were dissenters who sounded to me also serious.

I was amazed that the doubters and deniers were not given a fair chance to present their ideas to the public. Dialogue and discussion between the two camps were discouraged. That’s when I started to look deeper into the issue and to probe into who the people, pro and con, involved are.

I just wanted to have glimpses of whether they are competent scientists who also are believers, or just scientists but not men of faith and vulnerable to play politics or to ideological biases.

Sorry, I have to use these criteria in this increasingly maddening world driven by all sorts of man-made inventions but putting God aside. That’s my basic guiding principle. Science has to go with faith. Any attempt to separate the two is immediately suspicious to me.

This issue cannot be resolved by science alone, especially if it’s a science already prostituted by politics and ideologies. Faith has to come in. Our human condition demands it.

And I found out that while all sorts of people can be found in both camps, the supporters tend to be non-believers and just contented with being “pure” scientists, while the doubters and deniers are at least open to the faith.

Of course, there are many who are neither strong supporters nor strong deniers, but are just swept away by the bandwagon effect of the controversy. They like mouthing hand-me-down clichés just to be with the flow.

Among these are clerics and other religious people whose pronouncements peppered with global warming terms sound really funny and ridiculous. I just pray for them and hope their embarrassment will not be too biting.

Of course, many public officials like to play Pied Piper mostly for the fund of it. I often wonder whether they really know what they are talking about.

This is now the modern, very sophisticated barbarianism that seems to be committed flagrantly and with impunity against the whole of humanity, and not just Maguindanao.

Let’s pray, learn our precious lessons and move on!




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