The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 24, 2009 Major News Stories

Signal up in 20 areas as "Urduja" moves toward Visayas

At least 20 areas were placed under Storm Signal No. 1 Monday night as tropical depression "Urduja" accelerated toward Visayas and is expected to make landfall over Leyte Tuesday morning.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said "Urduja" was estimated at 70 kms east-northeast of Surigao City as of 10 p.m.

In its 11 p.m. advisory, Pagasa said "Urduja" packed maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near the center and was moving west-northwest at 15 kph. 

By Tuesday morning it is expected to make landfall over Leyte, and by evening it is expected to be 40 kms east-southeast of Roxas City.

By Wednesday evening it is expected to be 120 kms west-northwest of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The next evening it is expected to be 450 kms northwest of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

Areas under Storm Signal No. 1 include Masbate, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Biliran, Leyte provinces, Cebu, Camotes Island, Bohol, Negros provinces, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Camiguin, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat, and Siargao Island.

Shell, Petron to hike prices by P1.50 per liter

(UPDATE) Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Petron Corp. will increase oil prices by as much as P1.50 per liter effective Tuesday.

At 12:01 a.m., Shell will raise the prices of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene, said vice president for communications Roberto Kanapi.

Petron's price adjustment will take effect at 6 a.m. Tuesday, said spokesperson Virginia Ruivivar.

This will be the second time that both oil players will raise prices, after the lifting of Executive Order 839, which placed a cap on oil prices in its October 15 level.

Flying V to hike fuel prices by P1.50/L

MANILA - Independent oil player Flying V announced it will hike fuel prices on Tuesday, its second increase since the government-imposed ceiling on oil prices was lifted.

Eastern Petroleum, Flying V to raise pump prices by P1.50

Eastern Petroleum and Flying V will raise pump prices by P1.50 per liter starting Tuesday, the second time both increased rates after the government lifted a cap on fuel charges last week.

Oil above $78 in Asian trade

by Agence France-Presse
SINGAPORE- Oil prices moved above $78 a barrel in Asian trade Monday as a weaker US dollar helped boost demand, analysts said.

Monsod to NGOs: Focus on oil smuggling, not oil firms

Civil society groups must focus its attention on oil smuggling, which costs the country between P25 billion to P35 billion a year in losses, rather than on oil companies, said former National Economic Development Authority (Neda) chief Solita Collas-Monsod.

RP may import 3 million MT of rice in 2010

If climate change will continue to affect the country"s agriculture production, Manila may import as much as 3 million metric tons of rice next year.

DA says there will be enough, pork, chicken, onions

There will be enough chicken and pork in the country despite the anticipated increase in demand for the commodities owing to the upcoming holidays, the Department of Agriculture said.

Better employment prospects seen in 2010

The first quarter of 2010 may bring better news to more Filipinos next year as a poll by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that more business enterprises are looking at hiring more workers on the back of the government"s bid for reconstruction and rehabilitation and the improving global economic conditions.

Migrante urges DFA to help distressed OFW

by By Dennis Carcamo
MANILA, Philippines--A group of overseas Filipino workers based in the Middle East today called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to make good its promise to provide "blood money" in exchange for the freedom of an OFW jailed for 14 years in Kuwait.

AFP: Maguindanao death toll may reach 43

As many as 43 relatives and supporters of a gubernatorial bet in Maguindanao as well as journalists who were supposed to cover the filing of his certificate of candidacy were abducted and believed murdered by armed men in Maguindanao, the military said on Monday.

Wife of gubernatorial bet, 35 killed in Maguindanao

(UPDATE 2) At least 36 persons, including the wife of a Maguindanao gubernatorial bet, taken hostage by armed men believed to be followers of the Ampatuan political clan, were found dead in the village of Masalay in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanao on Monday afternoon.

The bodies were found hours after Buluan town vice Mayor Ishmael "Toto" Mangudadatu received a text message from his wife, Genalyn, at 10 a.m., that their convoy was blocked by some 50 armed men while they were on their way to file his certificate of candidacy for governor at the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao.

Ishmael Magudadatu said that as of 5 p.m., the military has recovered the bodies of his wife, Genalyn and 35 others. He said his wife was raped and then killed.

The others who were found dead, according to Ishmael, were his lawyers Cynthia Oquendo and Connie Brizuela; Mr. Oquendo, the father of Cynthia; Bai Eden Mangudadatu, sister of the vice mayor; Rowena Mangudadatu; Manguba Bai Mangudadatu; and Farida Mangudadatu, the vice mayor's youngest sister;

Also kidnapped were:

* Journalists Ian Tublan, Leah Dalmacio, Gina dela Cruz, Marites Cabutas, Bart Maravilla of Bombo radyo Koronadal; Joy Duay; Henry Araneta of DZRH; Andy Teodoro; Bong Reblando of Manila Bulletin; Mac-mac Areola; Jimmy Cabillo; and Nening Montaño of DXCP;

* Supporters and staff of the vice mayor, drivers Rasul Daud, Eugene Dohilyo, Chito, Abdula Hajdi and Patrick Pamansan; Wahida Ali Kaliman; Farida Sabdula; Zoraida Vernan; Victor Nuñez; certain Unto; Zaida Abdul; Pinky Balayman; Ella Balayman; Rahima Piopo, who came from Palawan; Farina Mangudadatu and Meriam Calico.

Buluan town Mayor Ebrahim Mangudadatu said 20 bodies were initially recovered earlier but more bodies were seen scattered in the area.

Mangudadatu said some of the victims were buried. He said a backhoe, which was apparently used to dig the graves, was still in the area.

The backhoe even had "A Property of the Provincial Government of Maguindanao" printed on it, the mayor said.

The journalists with the group were there to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy by Buluan town vice mayor Ishmael "Toto" Mangudadatu.

The 34 journalists, aboard three vehicles, were part of the convoy led by vice mayor Eden Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town in Maguindanao, who was tasked by his brother to file his COC with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao.

Vice mayor Mangudadatu of Buluan town earlier told the Inquirer by phone that he received a text message around 10 a.m. Monday, that the convoy was intercepted along the national highway particularly in the boundary of Ampatuan and Sharif Aguak towns.

Mangudadatu sent his wife and two sisters and several other women supporters to formally file his COC with the Comelec to avoid creating tension.

In Manila, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that 21 bodies were recovered but the military said they were found in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., the spokesman of the Armed Forces said that out of the scores of relatives and supporters of Mangudadatu who were reported abducted, 21 have been confirmed killed.

At the time Brawner gave his statement, he said 13 of the fatalities were women. "But there is no indication yet in our report how they were killed," he told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.

Mangudadatu said he sent his female relatives, hoping that his political enemies would not harm them. "I was expecting they will not harm them because they were all women. No security escorts were even sent to accompany them as I trust the police and military could protect them," Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu is running for a post held by the Ampatuans. Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., is reportedly the one eyeing to replace his father, Andal Sr.

The vice mayor appealed for sobriety from among his family and relatives.

"Let's trust Allah. We should maintain our composure," he said.

The convoy left Buluan town past 9 a.m. but the Inquirer along with Joseph Jubelag of Manila Standard Today and Paul Bernaldez of Bandera dropped by a hotel in Tacurong City where the journalists stayed overnight.

A hotel staff informed the three reporters that two motorcycle-riding men asked for the whereabouts of the media. They even tried to get the names of all journalists covering the scheduled filing of the COC of Mangudadatu. The hotel staff, however, did not give the names of journalists claiming they didn't have the list.

Sensing danger ahead, the three journalists decided not to proceed to Shariff Aguak.

The Inquirer tried to contact the journalists who traveled with the convoy but they could no longer be reached.

A text message sent by Bart Maravilla's mobile phone number even said: "cnung bart? Ala akong kila2ng ganun ee."

Maj. Gen. Alfredo Cayton, 6th Infantry Division commander of the Philippine Army, told the Inquirer that he had received a directive from the higher authorities to rescue at all cost the abducted persons.

Cayton said he dispatched two companies of soldiers to track down the armed who reportedly brought the victims to Crossing Saniag and Malating, all part of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Earlier on Monday, Mangudadatu said there were sketchy reports that six of the hostages had been killed, one of them beheaded.

"As of now, we are at a loss," said the Buluan vice mayor, who is the nephew of Sultan Kudarat Rep. Pax Mangudadatu.

No one from the Ampatuans could be contacted for reactions.

Even the mobile phone of provincial election supervisor Estelita Orbase at the provincial capitol could not be contacted.

The atrocity happened while Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan were reportedly in Manila for an emergency meeting with presidential adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio.

Health workers in Maguindanao said some of them had to go home early to this city in trying to evade the very volatile situation.

Ponce said additional troops have been deployed to secure the Comelec office and other government facilities from possible retaliation from the aggrieved parties.

An insider from the Ampatuan clan said the Mangudadatu convoy was flagged down to check on firearms and explosives, but armed bodyguards reportedly refused to submit to the inspection, which caused a commotion.

On Monday afternoon, Cotabato City-based reporters dispatched to cover the hostage-taking had to return to base when told of the hazard waiting at the scene.

Told to back-off by government security troops were ABS-CBN and GMA television crew and other print and broadcast journalists.

Loreto Rosario of the Catholic-ran DXMS radio said "the situation is too hot and we were told to wait for it to cool-off."

A correspondent for television network GMA-7 said he was prevented from taking footage and "soldiers and civilians told us not to proceed. Delikado raw (It's dangerous)."

Lerio Bompat of ABS-CBN said their presence was just limited at the Capitol premises. The advice was not to go to the scene of the crime which is about five kilometers away from the Comelec office.


Bart Maravilla of Bombo Radyo-Koronadal, Henry Araneta of DZRH-Cotabato, Bong Reblando of the Manila Bulletin, and Neneng Montano of radio station DXCP.

Reports from NUJP chapters in Mindanao also listed the following media persons, whose affiliations were not immediately available, as among the victims: Ian Toblan, Leah Dalmacio, Gina dela Cruz, Marites Cabutas, Joy Duhay, Andy Teodoro, Mac-Mac Areola, and Jimmy Cabillo.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said in a local television interview that 21 bodies - 13 female and eight male - have so far been recovered from the Maguindanao massacre. 

Brawner said the abducted victims included Mayor Mangudadatu's sisters Bai Farinah and Bai Eden Mangudadatu, the incumbent vice mayor of Mangundadatu town, also in Maguindanao province.

Toto said other abducted victims were lawyers Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, Rasul Daud, and Faridah Sabdulah, and some 30 journalists. He said the female victims were sexually assaulted.


"Karumdumal po talaga ang ginawa. Pinagdurog-durog ang ulo at yung mga pantalon nila binaba po, nakausli po yung mga ari ng babae (What they did was really heinous. The heads of the victims were bashed and the females stripped from the waist down)," he said.

Toto said he received a call from his wife about 9 a.m., informing him that their convoy was intercepted by armed men, reportedly followers of the Ampatuans.

Genalyn complained that one of her abductors slapped her, Toto said, adding that that was the first and last conversation he had with his wife since the incident took place.

"Masakit sa akin yung kapatid ko, asawa ko mahal na mahal ko. Meron pa ho kaming anak na siyam na buwan (It pains me to think of my sister, and my wife whom I love very much. Our baby is just nine months old)," he said.

Palace orders hunt for Maguindanao hostage takers

(UPDATE) Malacanang on Monday condemned the abduction and killing of a group of politicians and journalists in Maguindanao and ordered authorities to hunt down perpetrators.

Poll rivalry triggers clan war in Maguindanao

MANILA - Observers are concerned that the sensational murder of female members of the Mangudadatu clan in Maguindanao province, and the media practitioners, will just be the beginning of a blood bath that might escalate further as the 2010 elections near.

Ampatuans, Mangudadatus were allies for decades

The Ampatuans and Mangudadatus have reigned in Maguindanao politics since 1986 when the revolutionary government of then President Corazon Aquino appointed officers-in-charge to local elective posts of mayors, municipal, provincial and village legislators, as well as governors and their deputies.

The patriarchs of both clans— Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Datu Pua Mangudadatu —were appointed mayors of their respective municipalities, Maganoy (now Shariff Aguak) and Buluan, Maguindanao.

The two men never lost an election and their childrenhave also entered politics and emerged winners, too. Many saw their political careers thrive in the positions they have held, among them, Governor Zaldy Uy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and incumbent Buluan town Vice-Mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu, who is now said to be running for Maguindanao governor, the post to be left by Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. to his son, Andal Jr.

The two families are related, at least, by affinity.

The late Datu Pua is the father of one of the victims of the massacre in Maguindanao on Monday -- Deah Mangudadatu-Dilangalen -- sister of Esmael. She was married to Datu Nasser Dilangalen, a cousin of Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, whose daughter is married to a grandson of the elder Ampatuan.

It was said that before he died of lingering illness, Datu Pua had left his politician children under the care and tutelage of the elder Ampatuan, the two old men having been very close friends.

In 2001, the Mangudadatus joined the band of local leaders supporting the candidacy of Ampatuan Sr. for governor of Maguindanao, against then incumbent Governor Datu Zacaria Candao.

A rift between the two families started with rumors that Esmael was running for governor in the May 2010 elections.

Their ties were severed when the Mangudadatus purportedly blocked the creation of the Adam municipality to be culled from the towns that they control in the south eastern tip of the province. It was also said that the proposed town did not meet the population required by law.

Adam is reportedly the name of the deceased father of Supt. Piang Adam, who had retired as police provincial director of Maguindanao early this year. The police officer is said to be loyal to the elder Ampatuan and to his son Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay municipality.

As Adam and his relatives began establishing residency in Pandag town in the political territory of the Mangudadatus, he reported an incident of attack in late July 2009 by armed men, during which a close kin of the retired officer was killed. Subsequent police pursuit operations had some of the Mangudadatu followers disarmed.

The Mangudadatu clan is most prominent in Sultan Kudarat province, although it also enjoys some local political clout in Maguindanao. The following are members of the clan who have held various political positions at various times:

Datu Pax Mangudadatu
- representative, 1st District of Sultan Kudarat (2007-2010)
- governor, Sultan Kudarat (2004-2007)
- mayor, Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat (1988-1998)
- Datu Pax is the father of Datu Suharto and Ruth, and the father-in-law of Datu Raden.

Datu Suharto Mangudadatu
- governor, Sultan Kudarat (2007-2010)
- representative, Lone District of Sultan Kudarat (2004-2007)
- mayor, Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat (1998-2004)
- Datu Suharto is the son of Datu Pax, brother of Ruth, and the brother-in-law of Datu Raden Sakaluran.

Ruth Sakaluran
- mayor, Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat (2007-2010)
- Ruth is the daughter of Datu Pax, sister of Datu Suharto, and wife of Datu Raden.

Datu Raden Sakaluran
- mayor, Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat (2004-2007)
- Datu Raden is the son-in-law of Datu Pax, brother-in-law of Datu Suharto and husband of Ruth.

There are also Mangudadatu members who hold local seats in Maguindanao province:

Datu Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu is currently vice mayor of Buluan municipality.
Bai Eden Mangudadatu is currently vice mayor of Mangudadatu municipality. 

Mike is LP's bet for mayor

The Liberal Party has officially endorsed Vice Mayor Michael Rama of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) as its bet for mayor in the May 2010 elections in Cebu City.

21 presidential candidates so far--Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) legal department accepted seven more candidacies for presidency on the fourth day of filing Monday, including that of Ang Kapatiran's John Carlos Delos Reyes.

Octogenarian is latest presidential aspirant

by By Dino Maragay
MANILA, Philippines – An 81-year-old woman is the latest presidential aspirant to formally throw her hat into the May 2010 presidential derby.

Aquino, Villar pick 'lucky' days in filing CoCs

Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential bet Senator Manny Villar are set to file their certificates of candidacy (CoC) on November 28 and 30, respectively, spokesmen said on Monday.

Escudero to announce political plans Tuesday

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero will finally reveal on Tuesday his political plans in 2010, a statement from his office said on Monday.

Escudero will settle for VP in 2010 - Osmeña

Senator Francis Escudero will run as an independent vice presidential candidate, his former campaign manager, former senator Sergio "Serge" Osmena III, said Monday.

Aquino camp still keen on getting Escudero

The camp of Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is trying to get Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero on its side since both are advocating similar reforms for the country.

Erap loses cool in forum with Ebdane

by by Aries Rufo,
MANILA - What happens when two "macho" men meet? One is bound to lose his cool and composure.

Militants to announce plans tomorrow

As their alliance with Senator Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP) hits a snag, militant party-list groups will make know their plans for the May 2010 election on Tuesday.

Four Magdalo rebels set to file COCs

Four soldiers from the rebel group Magdalo announced on Monday that they would be filing their respective certificates of candidacy to run as independent candidates in next year's elections.

According to the group, the Makati City court has given clearance to Gary Alejano and James Layug to file their CoCs in their respective areas.

Alejano, who would be running for mayor in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, left for his province last Friday, the group said.

Alejano was granted a five-day pass by the courts to go to his hometown.

Meanwhile, Layug, will file his candidacy in Taguig City on Wednesday. Layug will run for congressman in Taguig's 2nd district.

Army Captain Dante Langkit was also allowed by the Armed Forces' general court martial to travel on November 25th to file his CoC in Kalinga province.

Former Air Force First Lieutenant Francisco Ashley Acedillo is also set to file his candidacy in Cebu City on November 27.

Langkit and Acedillo will be running as congressmen for the lone district of Kalinga province and 1st district of Cebu City, respectively.

All four candidates will be running as independents and as civilians, except for Langkit, who will automatically be considered as having resigned ipso facto from the military service upon filing his CoC, the group said.

Atienza: Pacquiao will back my presidential bet

MANILA - New World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will back the same presidential candidate as Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose 'Lito' Atienza. This is according to Atienza, Pacquiao's long-time political ally and adviser. 

1 out of 2 disapprove of PGMA's performance

MANILA - Filipinos who distrust and disapprove of President Arroyo's performance continued to increase, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey conducted October 22 to 30.

'It's difficult to honor prisoners' right-to-vote'

by By Lilita Balane, Newsbreak
MANILA - A Commission on Elections official admitted on Monday it will be difficult to enforce the right of prisoners to vote due to limitations on logistics and staff complement.

CHR asked to prove feasibility of polling precincts in jails

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday asked the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to prove the feasibility of setting up special polling precincts for detainees in jails all over the country.

PB seeks probe into river contamination

The Cebu Provincial Board is eyeing an investigation into the alleged contamination of the Pangdan River in Naga by coal ash which, residents of Barangay Pangdan believed, came from the Korean Power Corporation and Salcon power plant.

Gungob sues Capitol official for impeding town project

After Governor Gwen Garcia directed provincial lawyer Marino Martinquilla to file charges against Consolacion Mayor Avelino Gungob for allegedly operating a quarrying business without a permit, Gungob instead beat them to the punch and filed a complaint against Capitol officials and police officers.

Prosecutor Mañalac abandons cubicle

Controversial prosecutor Vicente Mañalac finally abandoned the cubicle at the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor's Office after being admonished by a ranking official of the Department of Justice from Manila.

Devanadera out as next SC justice

by by Purple S. Romero,
MANILA - The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Monday decided not to include Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera in its shortlist of nominees to the Supreme Court (SC).

Waterfront to borrow new funds for debt payment, hotel renovation

Waterfront Philippines Inc., which claims to be the country"s leading hotel operator, will borrow new funds to settle obligations and renovate its properties.

Thousands throng rival Nicaragua rallies, 12 injured

by Agence France-Presse
MANAGUA - Thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters took to the streets of Nicaragua's capital Saturday, protesting and backing President Daniel Ortega's bid to remain in power.

Obama to meet war cabinet on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will meet with his war cabinet Monday for "possibly" the last time before deciding whether to dispatch tens of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, an official said.

Survivors recount China mine disaster; 92 dead

When gas levels suddenly spiked deep in the Xinxing coal mine, Wang Jiguo grabbed two co-workers and they ran for their lives. Minutes later, there was a huge bang, a torrent of hot air and the earth shuddered.

Denmark: 65 world leaders for UN climate summit

Sixty-five world leaders have said they will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in December, and several more have responded positively to invitations, Danish officials said yesterday.

Pacquiao: My world record is hard to beat

 MANILA – "People's Champ" Manny Pacquiao humbly stated that his record of winning seven world titles in seven different weight classes would be hard to equal much less to surpass.

New photos of Pacquiao, Krista in Baguio surface

MANILA – Following People's Champ Manny Pacquiao's denial, new photos of him and young sexy actress Krista Ranillo together in Baguio City continue to spread online.

Comelec: 2010 bets in MMFF could be disqualified

A word of warning for 2010 candidates who will star in movies to be featured in next month"s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF): You can be disqualified. The warning came from Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Ferdinand Rafanan, who said the films may constitute propaganda, which is prohibited under existing election laws.

Brazilian is Miss Earth 2009

Brazil thwarted the Philippines' attempt to win a back-to-back victory in the Miss Earth beauty pageant held at Boracay Ecovillage Convention Center on the island of Boracay Sunday night.

Hayden's license revoked due to sex scandal

The government has revoked the license of celebrity doctor Hayden Kho Jr. following the immorality complaints filed against him by his ex-lover, actress Katrina Halili.

Actor Bernard Bonnin dies at 71

Veteran actor Bernard Bonnin, who popularized the character "Palos" in the 1960s, died of multiple organ failure on Saturday morning at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City. He was 71.

Senators hail Filipino CNN hero

Senators on Wednesday heaped praises on street educator Efren Penaflorida for bringing honor to the country after he was named CNN hero of the year as they also pointed out that his win should also prompt government to do more to better the poor state of education in the Philippines.

Nelly Furtado blasts Madonna

by Bang Showbiz
Nelly Furtado has blasted Madonna over her reluctance to age naturally.

"New Moon" wolfs down $140.7M in opening weekend

LOS ANGELES - The vampire romance "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" sucked up $140.7 million in its first three days and pulled in a total of $258.8 million worldwide, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Samuel Goldwyn  - "I'm willing to admit that I may not always be right, but I am never wrong."

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