Duterte jokes about marijuana use despite thousands of deaths in drugs war

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

"In many ways the government's attacks against Rappler have made it very clear to us exactly who we are, what our identity is, and for our young reporters who are on the ground, how clear and necessary our mission is today", Ressa told CNN last month. "Rappler pays the right taxes".

"I think it is a way of sending a signal that we have to be careful".

"That's just the way he is", he told reporters.

"Our democracy is in transition. the mission of journalism has never been needed as much as it is now, and we'll continue doing these stories".

"How can they be prosecuted?"

"It's too late to change", he concluded, adding, "If you believe it, you are stupid".

"I'm going to hold my government accountable for publicly calling me a criminal", she said on Sunday night in brief comments to journalists gathered at the airport.

"He [Duterte] does it because usually events are boring ..."

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The Philippine government also sought to revoke Rappler's licence to operate earlier this year.

Duterte, after his speech, told reporters he had been joking, but a human rights activist criticised the attempt at humour.

In his speech during the recognition rites of the Asean National Organizing Council (NOC) officials and personnel, Duterte said he used marijuana to cope with his gruelling schedule in the Asean Summit.

"Arresting Maria will send a clear signal that the country's democracy is fast receding under a feckless administration that can not abide criticism and free expression and will go to ridiculous lengths to muzzle all those is does not agree with", the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said when news of the arrest warrant for Ressa was announced last week.

"She vows to #holdtheline".

Rappler has challenged Duterte frequently, questioning the accuracy of his public statements and scrutinising his war on drugs and his foreign policies.

Many netizens were infuriated by Duterte's joke, accusing him of hypocrisy, as he has repeatedly denounced drug use and launched a "war on drugs" in the country, which has claimed lives of thousands of people involved in drug production and distribution. The president once accused Rappler of being controlled by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency without giving any proof.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose controversial war on drugs has killed almost 5,000 suspected drug dealers and users since taking office in 2016, said on Monday he used marijuana to stay awake - and then said he was just joking.

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