JUNE 19, 2009
(STAR) By Donnabelle Gatdula - Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes took issue with Ralph Recto, saying yesterday that the socioeconomic planning secretary was using oil price issues to become “popular.”

“It’s easy to say that it (oil price) should go down and it should go down to certain levels to become popular with the public,” Reyes said during a press briefing yesterday.

He said Recto’s actions are uncalled for and creating uncertainties in the market.

“It does not do anybody any good,” Reyes said. “(It) raises peoples’ expectations, and if they believe what you say, then it just worsens the situation.”

Reyes called on the former senator to clarify issues before the public and stop claiming that “it is only him (Recto) who wants to protect the public.”

At a news conference last Wednesday, Recto presented “updated” data on the alleged overpricing by P8 per liter of oil companies, which are under the supervision of the Department of Energy (DOE).

Reyes said he had a meeting with Recto at which they agreed that they should consult each other on any announcement on oil pricing.

The DOE had already endorsed to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) the financial statements of oil companies for an audit after the Commission on Audit (COA) refused to conduct the review of the books of the oil firms since these are not under their jurisdiction.

For policy-making purposes, it was learned that NEDA could undertake the audit.

This was one of the offshoots of previous meetings among NEDA, the DOE and oil industry players held at the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) in Makati City.

Reyes had been pointing out that DOE is not allowed under the Oil Deregulation Law to intervene with market forces.

“I’m telling the public that we have a problem as world oil prices are increasing. The law does not allow the government to control oil prices. That’s a fact. And it is not just Secretary Recto who wants oil prices to go down,” he said.

“It’s easy to say that oil prices should go down by P8 per liter – that’s very popular. I, for instance, could claim that it will go down by P15 per liter, but since it is not true I will not make such claim. I don’t want to mislead the public,” he said.

Reyes also told Recto to stop meddling in energy-related matters and attend to his own issues at NEDA like attracting foreign investments for the local energy sector in order to secure our supply of energy. .

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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