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.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts (in the Philippines), there are,” he said in a speech in his hometown of Davao City.
“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,” the leader added.
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.
“What President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heart-breaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country,” said World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder to BBC as he demanded an apology.
US-based Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League said to BBC that the comments were ‘inappropriate and deeply offensive’, with communications director Todd Gutnick saying it was ‘baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster’.
Duterte was voted to power in a May election on the back of a vow to end drugs and corruption in the country of 100 million people. He took office on June 30 and over 3,100 people have been killed since then, mostly alleged drug users and dealers, in police operations and in vigilante killings.