Duterte's Hitler remark 'misinterpreted'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday sought to douse global anger over his remarks likening his brutal anti-crime war to Adolf Hitler's massacre of over six million Jews.

"We do not wish to diminish the profound loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust," Mr Duterte's spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

In what has become an all-too-familiar clarification, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, one of Mr Duterte's most trusted allies, told reporters: "He was just joking."

On Friday, Mr Duterte drew a parallel between his bloody war on narcotics and the Holocaust.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews... Now there are three million drug addicts... I'd be happy to slaughter them," he said, understating the toll cited by historians, which is six million.

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

Those remarks have drawn sharp rebukes from Western governments and human rights advocates.

United States Defence Secretary Ash Carter described Mr Duterte's comments as "deeply troubling".

Germany's Foreign Ministry said "any comparison of the singular atrocities of the Holocaust with anything else is totally unacceptable".

United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide Adama Dieng urged Mr Duterte to exercise restraint in his use of language.

Mr Josef Benedict, deputy director-general of Amnesty International, said Mr Duterte "has sunk to new depths".

Jewish groups earlier condemned Mr Duterte's remarks. 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," he said.

Mr Abella did not offer any apology in his statement, insisting Mr Duterte has again been misinterpreted.

"Mr Duterte's reference to the slaughter was an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured - as a mass murderer, a Hitler - a label he rejects."

He said Mr Duterte was simply trying to "draw an oblique conclusion that, while the Holocaust was an attempt to exterminate the future generation of Jews, the so-called extrajudicial killings, wrongly attributed to him, will nevertheless result in the salvation of the next generation of Filipinos".

Since Mr Duterte took office in June promising a grisly campaign against crime and drugs, the Philippines has seen a surge in killings of drug suspects. Philippine officials have counted about 3,000 deaths during the crackdown, about a third at the hands of the police.

Mr Duterte has reacted defiantly, and often with abusive language, to all criticism of his bloody war on crime.

On Friday, he attacked the US and the European Union again for their alleged inaction on the migrant crisis emanating from the Middle East.

"You - US, EU, you can call me anything. But I was never into or I am never into hypocrisy like you," he said. "There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you're worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?"


This article was first published on October 02, 2016.
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