Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte jokes he used marijuana at ASEAN summit meeting

Philippine leader jokes he used marijuana at summit meeting

Philippine leader jokes he used marijuana at summit meeting

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech after leading the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Panguil Bay Bridge in Tubod, Lanao del Norte on November 28, 2018.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters: "Everybody is entitled to a joke".

A few of his audience during the awarding ceremonies for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Organizing Council chuckled at the admission of the President, whose brutal crackdown on drugs has claimed thousands of lives and stirred global furor. "It's the opposite, so obviously there was no logic there, so he was joking", local outlet ABS/CBN News reported.

"I use marijuana to keep awake", Duterte said in a speech to government officials, complaining about the "killing" schedule at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore in November. "It's a killing activity".

The 73-year-old told the crowd: "But at my age, I am not really bothered because I take marijuana to stay awake", a comment which was met with laughter, according to Bloomberg. "For others, it's not possible".

But also that afternoon, following his remarks, he told reporters, "Alam mo naman nagpapatawa talaga ako (You know that I'm just joking)".

Panelo explained that marijuana was not a "stimulant".

Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros described the President's joke as "callous" and "cruel". "It's too late to change".

At least 5,000 people have been killed as a result of Duterte's drug war, his landmark and most controversial policy.

"If the President is serious in handling the drug issue, he should stop his tough talk, understand the science behind substance use and addiction, and give the issue the due gravity it deserves", said the Y4MH chair, Dr. Raymond John Naguit.

The President believes medicinal marijuana is "an ingredient of modern medicine".

In a statement on Monday, Ressa said that the charges were "a clear case of harassment".

Panelo confirmed this. "President Duterte said that, for purposes of medicine to heal, he is in favor of legalizing marijuana, but not for use other than that".

"Oh my goodness. There was no sleep", said Duterte on Monday.

Panelo also said Duterte had "never" taken marijuana in his life, even though he admitted that he never discussed the matter with the President. "So we will have to live with whatever he is for the next four years or so", Lacson said.

The charges are "part of the Duterte administration´s campaign to harass, threaten and intimidate critics", said Human Rights Watch Philippines researcher Carlos Conde.