Making jokes about using marijuana can be fun and create a lot of laughter. But when you are a political figure who has condemned thousands of people to death for using marijuana, not so much laughter can be heard.
This unfortunate event happened recently when the President of the Philippines made a distasteful joke that sent people into a blaze of anger.
It sounds shocking to think that a leader who is so against any type of substance would make jokes about using them, but that’s exactly what happened. On December 3rd at the conferment of awards for the ASEAN National Organizing Committee in Malacañang, President Rodrigo Duterte was speaking and he made some interesting comments.
According to reports, President Duterte spent most of his time allotted for a speech complaining about his schedule every year for ASEAN.
At the summit which was meant to honor diplomats from the Department of Foreign Affairs, President Duterte said, “You know, we start at 8:30 in the morning…and we end up almost 10, 11. And it's every 30 minutes. Maybe the ASEAN Secretariat thinks we're Boy Scouts. I can't take it.”
The New York Times reported that he continued speaking on the schedule that he finds to be ridiculous, stating that he thinks the “lower echelons” or lower members of staff should take these meetings and leave the leaders to handle only the “most important ones.”
He also mentioned that he had to stay up late to catch up on documents, adding “And the more that the crescendo becomes faster, the more you can’t sleep because you’re catching up on reading. You do not want your president to look ignorant or sound ignorant, so I have to catch up with the reading. There really is no time.”
Then President Duterte made the remark that has everyone upset. He said, “It’s a killing activity. But at my age, I am not really bothered because I take marijuana to stay awake.”
Later that day he said in an interview, “Of course it was a joke. But nobody can stop me from just doing my style. You sometimes say that I’m a misogynist in some of my jokes, that’s my style. It’s too late to change.”
If you are not familiar with the drug war in the Philippines you might not understand what the problem is. I mean if President Trump said this it would be talked about but most people would not be outraged because President Trump always says outrageous things and the laws on marijuana in the U.S. are very slack compared to the Philippines.
The Philippine drug war started when President Duterte was in office in 2016. Essentially the policy calls for the eradication of anyone who uses illegal substances, many civilians face execution without a trial. An estimated 20,000 people have been killed in 2018 alone including children. The President has stated that he is open to medical marijuana, but it is still illegal and punishable by death upon use.
It is a very brutal and extreme policy that has caused the lives of so many to be taken and ruin families forever. This is why everyone is so upset about his statement because he is the one who created this policy therefore, this joke is a really horrible one and shows the kind of person he really is. Gary Alejano, an opposition member of the House of Representatives was also outraged by the comments of the President, stating that it was insensitive.
He said, “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.”
It is also strange that he said that marijuana would help him stay awake. Obviously, different marijuana strains will affect you differently, some will make you drowsy while others won't. But they will not keep you awake like drinking coffee or using harder substances would. Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said, “he has never taken marijuana his entire life.”
And honestly, the comment he made proves he hasn’t used it. But killing thousands of people and then making a joke about what they died over is distasteful and downright disgusting behavior. It is also concerning to me that he doesn’t even understand what marijuana does to the brain and the body yet he persecutes those to an extreme who use it.
If you do not approve of marijuana use know what it does and what affects it has on the human body before you outlaw it, especially if execution is the price these people pay. It shows that President Duterte believes he is above the laws and knows it's not going to be seen as an issue with others in his position because no one will do anything about it.
Due to all of the backlash President Duterte received, the Palace came out with a statement about the situation. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that it was clearly a joke and that the President is able to make jokes.
He said, “Everybody is entitled to a joke. He does it because usually, events are boring… First, marijuana is not a stimulant to make you awake. It’s the opposite, so obviously there was no logic there, so he was joking. One joke does not make him a bad leader.”
No, a joke does not make a bad leader. Cruel and ridiculous policies, abuse of power, and disregard for the care of civilians make a bad leader. Killing people for using a substance is outlandish and barbarianism at its finest. And making jokes about using that substance when you put those laws into effect is even worse.
1. Duterte: I take marijuana to stay awake. Retrieved December 04, 2018 from https://www.rappler.com/nation/218111-duterte-says-he-takes-marijuana-stay-awake
2.Jason Gutierrez Rodrigo Duterte Jokes About Marijuana Use, While Thousands Die in His Drug War. Retrieved December 04, 2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/world/asia/philippines-duterte-marijuana.html
3. Do You Like To Smoke Weed? I Will F$%!@ Kill You. Retrieved December 04, 2018 from https://cannabis.net/blog/news/do-you-like-to-smoke-weed-i-will-f-kill-you
4. Philippine Drug War. Retrieved December 04, 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Drug_War
5.Dharel Placido Palace: Duterte entitled to make jokes. Retrieved December 04, 2018 from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/12/04/18/palace-duterte-entitled-to-make-jokes
6.Euan McKirdy Philippines President Duterte lashes out as approval ratings slip. Retrieved December 04, 2018 from https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/13/asia/duterte-eu-comments-approval-ratings-slip/index.html