Duterte backtracks on ‘marijuana’ remarks

Rodrigo Duterte 2017 SONA

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte, whose controversial drug war has prompted international criticism in the course of his administration, said on Monday he smokes marijuana to stay awake and cope with his punishing schedule.

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

In his remarks at the award conferment by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) National Organizing Council held at Malacañang, Mr. Duterte said of his schedule, “It’s a killing activity, and I think (at) my age, ako hindi masyado, kasi nagma-marijuana ako eh para magising (because I smoke marijuana to stay awake).”

He said about his schedule at the recent ASEAN Summit in Singapore, “You know, we start at 8:30 in the morning, and we end up almost 10, 11 (p.m.), nandiyan silang lahat (and everyone is there)…. Baka akala nitong ASEAN Secretariat boy scout kami? ‘Di kaya ‘yan, ‘di kaya (Maybe the ASEAN Secretariat thinks we’re boy scouts? We can’t take that. We can’t).”

“You have to give that to the TWG (technical working group) or at least to the lower echelons….We only take ‘yung pinaka importante (the important conferences),” he added.

He said the heads of states should only be tackling “urgent and immediate concerns” of ASEAN.

In a phone message to reporters, Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III said: “For the information of all: the President told me just now that he has never touched marijuana his entire life.”

Mr. Pimentel added that it was just a “joke he made up in relation to his story that the schedule he was being required to follow was a punishing one, from 8:30 a.m. up to midnight.”

Interviewed by ANC, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador S. Panelo, also said Mr. Duterte was just “jesting.”

Sought for comment, Isabela first district Rep. Rodito T. Albano III, principal author of the House Bill 6517 or the Act Providing Filipinos Right of Access to Medical Marijuana, said: “He is fooling you…. He doesn’t smoke in the first place.”

To recall, Mr. Duterte admitted in 2016 using fentanyl.

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