Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, ever since he came to power earlier in June this year, has incited anger on several occasions for his unabashed war on drugs. His unprecedented crackdown on drug users has seen the police force employ the controversial “knock and plead” policy of visiting suspected drug users at their homes and inviting them to register as users with their local community officials. He has unequivocally sanctioned the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers and users, and vigilante groups have reportedly slaughtered hundreds of others in only four months since Duterte became president of the South Asian nation.
And now, in a comment that is set to elicit widespread anger and condemnation, Duterte has likened himself to Adolf Hitler, and even said that he would be happy to repeat the Nazi leader’s crimes by having a holocaust of drug users in his native Philippines.
Speaking during a press conference at his hometown of Davao City, Duterte said that he would save the next generation by exterminating the roughly three million drug suspects in his country, according to CNN.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts (in the Philippines), there are..
I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have (me). You know my victims, I would like (them) to be all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
Not surprisingly, the Philippines president’s remarks have triggered shock and anger among Jewish groups in the United States, reports Reuters, which will likely add pressure on the White House to take a firm stand against Duterte. Earlier this year, after U.S. president Barack Obama had said that he would discuss the accusations of vigilante killings in the Philippines with Duterte, he had infamously called Obama “a son of a b**ch,” prompting the American president to immediately cancel the proposed meeting.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who is currently in Israel to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, said Duterte should apologize immediately and unconditionally for comparing himself to Hitler.
“These statements are revolting, and President Duterte must retract them and apologize. We just marked the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar, the massacre of more than 33,000 Jews in Ukraine by Nazi Germany…
Now, the elected leader of the Philippines openly calls for the mass murder of people who are addicted to drugs. Drug abuse is a serious issue. But what President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project, called the comments outrageous.
“Duterte owes the victims (of the Holocaust) an apology for his disgusting rhetoric,” he said.
— Peter Bouckaert (@bouckap) September 30, 2016
This is not the first time that the Philippines president has made outrageous remarks. After being criticized by the international community for the spate of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects, Duterte hit back at the UN, EU, and the United States, saying that none of them had the right or the “moral conscience” to question what the leader of a sovereign state decided to do in his country, reports Phil Star.
“Do not pretend to be the moral conscience of the world. Do not be the policeman because you do not have the eligibility to do that in my country,” Duterte said.
While it remains to be seen if Rodrigo Duterte’s recent remarks cause any significant dent in U.S.-Philippines relations, who have been longstanding allies, analysts agree that the Philippines president’s absurd remarks may lead the United States, and indeed the world, to reconsider its ties with the South Asian country’s leadership.
[Featured Image by Jes Aznar/Getty Images]