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Palace: Duterte entitled to make jokes

President Rodrigo Duterte. File

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte is entitled to make jokes even if he is the chief executive and that his pronouncements somehow have an impact on national policy.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this statement after Duterte drew flak for joking that he takes marijuana to keep himself awake.

“Everybody is entitled to a joke,” Panelo told reporters at a Palace briefing.

“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.”

Asked whether Duterte’s statements could be taken seriously by his younger audience, Panelo said the President “has set a good example by being a good leader.”

“One joke does not make him a bad leader,” he added.

Panelo also said Duterte had “never” taken marijuana in his life, even though he admitted that he never discussed the matter with the President.

“I don’t have to ask him, because we’ve been together for 30 years,” he said.

Duterte had clarified, just like in some of his previous controversial pronouncements, that his statement that he takes marijuana was just a joke to liven up a rather “boring” speech.

The President added: “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.”

Duterte has waged a controversial war on drugs, mostly targeting users and traders of shabu, the drug of choice for many drug addicts in the Philippines.

While the President is against synthetic substances such as shabu, he is open to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.