President Rodrigo Duterte’s joke that he uses marijuana to stay awake in the middle of his tight schedule will have no effect on children who heard his speech and who might take his remark seriously, spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday.
Panelo said children would not have understood Duterte’s joke on marijuana use.
“[Children are] incapable also of understanding whether it’s a joke or not. So, if they’re incapable of understanding it, so there’s no harm. Hindi nila naiintindihan eh,” Panelo said at a news conference.
Duterte himself told reporters on Monday that his statement about marijuana use was only a joke meant to dispel boredom during the Palace event.
Panelo said children didn’t watch speeches even as he was told that minors could still access them through the newscast.
“I think we’re dwelling on this joke thing more than we should. Hindi importante ‘yan. Let’s talk more seriously about serious things not jokes,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the President is entitled to make jokes like everyone else.
“He has set a good example by being a good leader. One joke will not make him a bad leader,” Panelo said after he was told during the briefing that Duterte, as the country’s leader, was supposed to set a good example to children.
“You cannot deprive any person – not because he is the President – to crack jokes. As he said, he does it because usually events are boring. So he gives some jokes to make us laugh.”
Panelo added Duterte had never used marijuana in his life.
“I don’t have to ask him kasi we have been together for 30 years, never,” Panelo said when asked if he had asked the President about it himself.
Duterte’s joke comes amid continued criticism of his war on drugs which has killed nearly 5,000 suspected drug dealers and users since assuming office in June 2016.