Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo rejected Ressa's statement, saying the Rappler chief executive was "entitled to the presumption of innocence" and could avail of legal remedies.
Panelo said the President usually cracked jokes when events were boring. "It's the opposite, so obviously there was no logic there, so he was joking", said Panelo.
The President spoke about using marijuana during a ceremony to recognize officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations National Organizing Council. "It's a killing activity".
"I had to take marijuana to stay awake", he said in the local language, putting his right thumb and forefinger near his mouth. "For others, it's not possible".
But after the press conference, Duterte told reporters he was joking about the "marijuana comment".
Malacañang has a "test" to tell if President Duterte is joking or not. "Nobody can stop me from just doing my style".
"We need to hold government to account, and part of the reason I'm here is precisely that", Ressa said outside a Manila court.
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McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide further details. She was detained while transferring between flights, the firm said.
On Monday, at the Asean NOC recognition rites, Duterte startled everyone when he said, "I use marijuana to keep myself awake". According to government data, close to 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations, but critics said the anti-drug campaign resulted in more extrajudicial killings.
The President has openly admitted his support for medical marijuana.
The President believes medicinal marijuana is "an ingredient of modern medicine". "Anyone on Facebook who questioned that would get brutally bashed", she said in an interview with FRONTLINE.
Panelo confirmed this. "President Duterte said that, for purposes of medicine to heal, he is in favor of legalizing marijuana, but not for use other than that".
Faced with arrest over tax evasion, the acclaimed founder of an online news site in the Philippines turned herself in to the authorities yesterday, in what is being seen as the latest episode in the ongoing crackdown on critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"One joke will not make him a bad leader", he added.
But he repeated the joke later on Monday when asked about extending martial law on the island of Mindanao, he said: "It might be during the cabinet meeting, after the pot session, so we can think clearly", The Guardian reported.