Manila, Dec 3 (AP) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose controversial war on drugs has cost thousands of lives, says he uses marijuana to keep awake at long regional meetings, but later disavowed his assertion as a joke. Also Read - President Kovind Undergoes Successful Bypass Surgery At AIIMS, Confirms Rajnath Singh

Duterte made the comment Monday at an awards ceremony where he talked about attending a recent summit meeting in Singapore of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and how the daylong schedules of such gatherings is grueling. Also Read - President Ram Nath Kovind Admitted To Hospital After 'Chest Discomfort'; Condition Stable

The 73-year-old Duterte said he used marijuana to keep himself awake at the ASEAN meeting. However, he later told reporters he was joking. Duterte is known for making blunt, off-the-cuff remarks. Also Read - 6.3-magnitude Earthquake Jolts Philippines

Philippine police say more than 4,800 suspects have been killed in the drug crackdown that began in July 2016 and which rights groups have denounced as extrajudicial executions. (AP) SMJ SMJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.