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PIA Press Release

Commentary: Public information a critical sector

By Henry S. Lagasca

San Fernando City, La Union (23 July) -- The aftermath of a Social Weather Station survey that showed negative ratings for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was triggered by events not of our own making. The current oil price hike issue is an economic downturn that we share with the rest of the world.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that oil companies should explain to the "masa" - in the language ordinary people can understand - issues that affect their day-to-day lives.

To keep the public posted on the rationale for price hikes is so critical because PGMA's critics, despite the gains of bold fiscal reforms, maintained its adverse view of President Arroyo.

Rather than working at popularity, Congress is in a perfect position within its prerogatives to take action to protect the interest of the people.

In the case of the rollback in oil prices, these are just temporary and short term. The government has put in place mechanisms that will reduce the use of oil in our country as well as energy conservation measures.

And public information is by putting in place effective and sustainable core messages in the language of the "masa" as well as strategies that addresses the issue on high cost of oil through a continuing information, education and communication campaign that reach the majority of the people.

The issue on global oil price hike has become a very touching issue as world economies including the government and people upset and frustrated by high gas price. Oil companies have also expressed concerns about the little margin of profit.

The Arroyo administration, however, succeeded in persuading oil industry players to rollback into half pump prices of oil.

Rice University's James A. Baker lll of the Institute for Public Policy reported that oil prices are set on the open world market, not by the oil industry. However, oil exporting countries controls 80 percent of oil reserves, and at today's prices, it's not surprising they're keeping a tight grip on what they have.

On the domestic front, Sec. Dureza stressed that the government is bearing the brunt of public ire in the runaway oil prices.

The issue has become so sensitive as lawmakers favor the conduct of an audit by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the so-called Big 3 players of the oil industry for signs of profiteering. The Big 3 includes Petron, Shell and Chevron Philippines.

Parallel to the congressional inquiry, public information campaign should be carried out not only by the Department of Energy (DOE), the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) but other allied government entities in view of the adverse impact on the national economy of the price of oil.

Big oil companies should have done this at the start of the oil crisis but it seems they prefer to keep mum for "there might be hidden agenda in the unrelenting hikes in fuel prices." (PIA Region 1/ LU) [top]

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