Rodrigo Duterte
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures with a fist bump during his visit to the Philippine Army's Camp Mateo Capinpin at Tanay township. Photo: AP

UpdatePhilippines’ Duterte likens himself to Hitler, wants to kill millions of drug addicts

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to liken himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Friday and said he would “be happy” to exterminate three million drug users and peddlers in the country.

His comments triggered shock and anger among Jewish groups in the United States, which will add to pressure on the US government to take a tougher line with the Philippines leader. Duterte recently insulted President Barack Obama and in a series of remarks he has undermined the previously close relationship between Manila and Washington.
There are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I’d be happy to slaughter them
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

In a rambling speech on his arrival in Davao City after a visit to Vietnam, Duterte told reporters that he had been “portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler” by critics.

Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Duterte said: “There are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I’d be happy to slaughter them.

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have...,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself. “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.”

His comments were quickly condemned by Jewish groups.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project, called them “outrageous”.

“Duterte owes the victims [of the Holocaust] an apology for his disgusting rhetoric.” The Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish group based in the United States, said Duterte’s comments were “shocking for their tone-deafness”.

“The comparison of drug users and dealers to Holocaust victims is inappropriate and deeply offensive,” said Todd Gutnick, the group’s director of communications. “It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner called Duterte’s remarks “troubling.”

“America’s ... partnership with the Philippines is ... based on a mutual foundation of shared values and that includes our shared belief in human rights and human dignity,” Toner said.

“President Duterte’s comments are a significant departure from that tradition and we find them troubling.”

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a news conference. Photo: Reuters

“I hope we learn the lessons of history,” Aquino said in widely reported remarks. “We should remember how Hitler came to power.”

Duterte has been scathing about criticism of his anti-drugs campaign and has insulted the United Nations and the European Union, as well as Obama, at various times in recent weeks.

On Friday, reacting to critical comments on his war on drugs by US Senators Patrick Leahy and Benjamin Cardin, Duterte said: “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.”

Students from St. Paul's University, a Roman Catholic university, display placards as they come out from their campus to protest the killings being perpetrated in war on drugs campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: AP
He also reiterated there will be no annual war games between the Philippines and the United States until the end of his six-year term, placing the longstanding alliance under a cloud of doubt. It also may make Washington’s strategy of rebalancing its military focus towards Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China much more difficult to achieve.

Still, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter, speaking before the latest remarks from Duterte, said Washington had an “ironclad” alliance with Manila.

A senior US defence official, also speaking earlier, told reporters that the United States had a long enduring relationship with the Philippines regardless of who was president.

“It’s going to continue to survive based on what we think are strong US-Philippines common security interests, so we’ll be engaging President Duterte further,” the official said.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a state visit to Vietnam. Photo: Reuters
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Duterte seen to liken himself to Hitler