A comedian in need of better jokes

He did it again.

President Rodrigo Duterte made a comment that shocked some, and had others slapping their foreheads and saying aloud or at least thinking, “No wonder.”

No wonder the president of the Philippines seems crazy sometimes, and the signs of that insanity grow stronger by the day.

He said during a speech earlier this week that he smoked marijuana “in order to stay awake.”

Reacting almost immediately, one of his key allies, Senate President Tito Sotto, wondered aloud if the chief executive knew what he was talking about, since smoking marijuana has the opposite effect of making the smoker drowsy. And high, of course. Don’t forget high.

As could be expected, Malacanang’s spin doctors went to work. The president was just joking, the Palace insisted.

Of course he was. The president has been known to deliver “jokes” at the worst of times, delivered in a serious deadpan expression.

When he said he smoked weed – a serious criminal offense, by the way – it was not the first time that Mr. Duterte admitted taking drugs. He had previously admitted taking the dangerous drug fentanyl regularly, “on doctor’s orders.”

The tragic thing about the unfunny presidential joke is that thousands of poor Filipinos have been killed in the name of Mr. Duterte’s drug war. Most victims may have been suspected of pushing shabu or poor man’s cocaine, but a number have also been said to be weed pushers and users.

So while the rest of the world has acknowledged that marijuana is essentially harmless and state after state in the US has legalized it not only for medical use but also for recreational use, archaic Philippine laws still consider weed a dangerous drug, and mere possession could land one in jail, if lucky, but in the morgue, if arresting cops are having a bad day or just don’t like the suspect’s face.

Halfway through his six-year term, Rodrigo Duterte still hasn’t grown into the presidency. He still believes he can do and say what he wants, when he wants.

Sadly, he is surrounded by sycophants who goad him to abuse his power to the hilt.

Maybe he was joking, maybe he was not. Nobody really knows. But Mr. Duterte does seem to be out of it pretty often. He acts like he is tripping, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are an ordinary citizen. But as president of the Philippines, he is expected to think and act clearly every waking hour of every day of the week.

If, like fentanyl, his doctor also thinks he should smoke weed regularly, well and good. But the people should know if he does have medical issues that require such treatment.

No one believes that a guy his age can be in perfect health. It’s perfectly normal to have some health issues. So if he needs weed to function normally, say so. No need to joke about it.

Early in his term as president, the former Davao City mayor said that he was in favor of medical marijuana, and why not? The plant that grows just about anywhere has been found to have potent medicinal properties.

The first studies confirmed that marijuana could ease the pain and discomfort of glaucoma. Later studies also showed that the weed was effective in the treatment of various diseases, including some forms of cancer.

Honestly, I hope that Mr. Duterte was not joking when he admitted smoking marijuana. It’s about time that the Philippines catch up with many countries that have taken note of countless studies that prove that marijuana can be a huge help in treating numerous illnesses.

Unfortunately, weed cannot cure a lame sense of humor, which is one of the many sicknesses of the president. What he needs is a better speech writer, one who knows how to tickle the funnybone of the typical Filipino.

Maybe Tito Sotto can be his ghost writer. The guy can be hysterically funny sometimes, even when he doesn’t mean to be.