‘It’s not funny,’ HRW says of Duterte’s joke on marijuana use
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest statement about using marijuana is an insult to the victims of the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
HRW Asia director Brad Adams said that the statement of Duterte on marijuana use is not a laughing matter.
“Duterte’s supposed joke is not funny: since his ‘war on drugs’ began in June 2016, the police and unidentified assailants have summarily killed more than 12,000 people, mostly under-employed young men,” Adams said in a dispatch.
“Marijuana is illegal in the Philippines, and Duterte’s admission of using it – whether in jest or not – undermines the rationale for his ‘drug war’ and exposes its murderous hypocrisy. It adds cruel insult to injury for the victims and their families,” he added.
On Monday evening, Duterte admitted in his speech during a conferment awards to the Asean-National Organizing Council officials that he was taking marijuana to keep awake from his busy schedule.
“It’s a killing activity, and I think that at my age — ako hindi masyado, kasi nagmamarijuana ako eh, para magising. Sa iba, hindi na kaya,” he said.
He immediately retracted his claim during an ambush interview with reporters after the event, saying that it was one of his jokes.
Adams further urged Duterte to order his policemen to stop arresting and killing people using illegal drugs in the country following his admission.
“Perhaps this episode will push Duterte to realize his hypocrisy and order the police to stop arresting and killing people who, like himself, personally benefit from cannabis. Otherwise, why shouldn’t the anti-drug agents knock on the door of Malacañang?” he said.
According to the latest government data, nearly 5,000 individuals have been killed in the administration’s war on drug campaign since July 2016 up to October 2018.
Meanwhile, about 161,584 were arrested by authorities from various police operations during the same time period.
Adams then suggested to Duterte that if he was not joking in his alleged drug use, he may perhaps support the idea of legalizing marijuana for medical needs.
“If Duterte wasn’t joking, then perhaps he will support the global trend to legalize cannabis use to help alleviate medical conditions,” Adams said.
“Human Rights Watch believes that personal drug use, being a matter of individual choice protected by international law, should be decriminalized,” he added.
In an interview on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told the public to use their common sense in determining whether Duterte is joking or not.
“One, we use our common sense; number two, makikita mong nagbibiro siya pag tumatawa iyong taong nasa harap na niya. Kasi ang joke ay ginagawa iyan para tumawa tayo di ba, ngayon kapag hindi ka tumawa, meron kang sinabi na sa tingin mo joke, eh ibig sabihin offended ang mga nakikinig sa iyo,” Panelo said. /jpv
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