'Use Marijuana to stay awake': Philippine president jokes about drug use

Clay Curtis
December 6, 2018

Panelo insisted that President Duterte was not behind the cases of Ressa, saying he has "too many obligations to fulfill".

It was just a joke, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said after telling an official gathering in Manila that he takes marijuana. "There's no harm", Panelo said, adding that children didn't watch Duterte's speeches. He said that meetings of country heads should only be for "urgent and immediate concerns", when major events in the summit happened "every 30 minutes".

In the past, Duterte has said he supported making medical marijuana legal, but his office said in May that he had reversed that stance. "It's the opposite, so obviously there was no logic there, so he was joking", local outlet ABS/CBN News reported.

The president while speaking of the punishing schedule that he has to adhere to said, he could "not handle" them.

Before this barrage of complaints, Duterte made headlines during the ASEAN Summit in Singapore for missing several meetings, which included the breakfast meeting 6, made light of his absence in a breakfast meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the gala dinner of the gathering. "It's a killing activity".

"Me, not so much", he added, "because I take marijuana to stay awake". "For others, it's not possible".

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Duterte, after his speech, told reporters he had been joking, but a human rights activist criticised the attempt at humour.

Marijuana, or cannabis, is illegal in the Philippines and is not a stimulant.

"You can not deprive any person - not because he is the President - to crack jokes". But nobody can stop me from just doing my style. "So I have to catch up with the reading, wala na talagang panahon", he said. According to government data, close to 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations, but critics said the anti-drug campaign resulted in more extrajudicial killings. "Do you really believe that I really smoke marijuana?" he asked.

The Justice Department says Rappler and Ressa tried to evade taxes by not reporting gains of nearly 3 million dollars in 2015.

But Salvador Panelo, the presidential spokesman, disputed Ressa's statement, claiming that Duterte had nothing to do with the filing of tax evasion and possibly other criminal charges against her and Rappler.

Panelo also said Duterte had "never" taken marijuana in his life, even though he admitted that he never discussed the matter with the President.

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