Marijuana jokes can be good and fun, except when the leader of a country has capitalized and campaigned on a brutal and bloody War on Drugs, one that has cost thousands of lives over the past two years, like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte did Monday. But following local reports that Duterte had skipped meetings for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take “power naps,” the President couldn’t help pushing back.
He blamed the grueling schedule set forth by ASEAN, stating that as a 73-year-old leader of the country, he needed to work harder to keep up.
“It’s a killing activity,” Duterte said, according to the New York Times. “But at my age, I am not really bothered because I take marijuana to stay awake.”
His comments were reportedly met with “bursts of laughter,” according to the Times. Duterte apparently has a history of making offense-laden jokes, reminding readers of another President with a penchant for the profane.
Official government statistics state that 4,500 have died in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. But according to “conservative estimates” from humans rights groups, more than 12,000 men, women, and children have been killed from the Philippine President’s War on Drugs, launched when he took over office in 2016. Duterte has admitted as such, too. “My sin is extrajudicial killings,” he said earlier this year.
Duterte later clarified that his joke was made in jest. But Gary Alejano, an opposition member of the House of Representatives, quickly condemned Duterte’s comments.
“If you are making a joke on an issue that has cost the lives of thousands of people in your drug war, then what does that say? You also treat peoples’ lives as a joke,” Alejano said.