Duterte offers PTV-4 airtime to rebels, protesters

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(File photo) President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at a councilors convention

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday that he wants the State-owned PTV-4 television network to be a space where people can express their grievances.

In a speech at the inauguration of the PTV-4 Cordillera Hub in Baguio City, Duterte said he would ask the network's management to offer airtime to everyone from ordinary protesters to the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"There's no need for you to demonstrate and snarl traffic along the way because I urge you to come here, explain to the management, and (if) you have a valid grievance or reason, we will give (you) the time," he said.

"Mga [To the members of the] NPA, we'll give you the space. Sa mga Cordillera guys, welcome kayo [To the rebels in Cordillera, you are welcome]," he added. "No need to fight. Use it. It's the people's money and the people would gladly hear you."

Duterte said early this month that he was willing reopen peace talks with the communist rebels.

This comes after he had lifted last month a ceasefire with them, saying that the CPP's demand to release some 400 political prisoners was too much.

Duterte also opened the channel to Muslim rebels, which the government is working with to resolve rampant and long-running violence in Mindanao.

"If you think that you have to communicate to the whole of the Philippines what you are aspiring for, we understand that," Duterte said. "You have been deprived of your lands, we understand that. There has been historical injustice, we understand that."

Duterte also said the network could be used by government officials to respond to accusations hurled against them.

"If you are about to be criticized or (are) being criticized or have been criticized and you want to answer, I said a fair chance, the right to be heard. Remember that," he said.

PTV-4 not for personal use

The President said he does not intend to use PTV-4 as a public-relations agency, emphasizing that he wants to grant the government-owned network much leeway.

"There will never be a time that I will use PTV-4 or its allied services for my personal (affairs)," he said. "'Di ko na kailangan [I don't need it]. Just tell the people about me."

"I am ready to grant all government communication facilities the degree of freedom," he added. "Bitawan namin kayo [We'll let you go] and act just like a private (network). Your template is really (the) BBC."