Duterte jokes about us­ing cannabis at ASEAN meet

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

PHILIP­PINE Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, whose con­tro­ver­sial war on drugs has cost thou­sands of lives, says he used mar­i­juana to keep awake at a re­cent re­gional meet­ing, but later dis­avowed his as­ser­tion as a joke.

Duterte made the com­ment Mon­day at an awards cer­e­mony where he talked about at­tend­ing last month’s meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, and how the sched­ules of such gath­er­ings that run from morn­ing un­til late at night is gru­elling.

“I use mar­i­juana to keep me awake,” the 73-year-old Duterte said, re­fer­ring to the Sin­ga­pore meet­ing. How­ever, he later told re­porters he was jok­ing.

Philip­pine po­lice say more than 4800 sus­pects have been killed in the drug crack­down that be­gan in July 2016 af­ter Duterte took of­fice. Rights groups have de­nounced the killings as ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions and say the crack­down is un­fairly di­rected at the poor rather than the king­pins in the il­licit trade.

Duterte is known for mak­ing off-the-cuff re­marks with­out much con­sid­er­a­tion for their ef­fect. Per­haps the most no­to­ri­ous was a joke he made in 2016 about the 1989 rape and mur­der of an Aus­tralian mis­sion­ary, which roiled re­la­tions with Can­berra.

Af­ter his re­mark about mar­i­juana caused a stir, he ex­plained to re­porters that he was jok­ing.

“It was a joke, of course it was a joke, but no­body can stop me from just do­ing my style,” he was quoted say­ing by ABS-CBN, a lead­ing ra­dio and tele­vi­sion net­work in the Philip­pines.

“If I want to joke, I will joke. Now, if you be­lieve it, then you’re stupid,” he said.

In the past, Duterte has said he sup­ported mak­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana le­gal, but his of­fice said in May that he had re­versed that stance. – AP

Photo: AP

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte lis­tens to a speech dur­ing the ASEAN Plus China Sum­mit meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore on Novem­ber 14.

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