There’s a public outcry in the international community over the recent remarks of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte comparing himself to Germany’s Adolf Hitler, who ordered the massacre of millions of Jews during the Holocaust, and further saying that he would be “happy to slaughter” three million people involved in the drug trade in his country.
One of them is Amnesty International issuing a statement on September 30, Friday.
“With this latest outburst, President Duterte has sunk to new depths. Governments – both in the region and around the world – should speak out immediately and condemn these outrageous statements. The words President Duterte used are not just extremely distasteful, they are extremely dangerous. They serve no discernible purpose other than to put more lives at risk,” said Josef Benedict, AI’s deputy director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
He added noticing a rise of “state-sanctioned violence and unlawful killings” throughout the Philippines since Duterte rose to power.
“Instead of stopping and condemning these human rights violations, and ensuring those responsible are held to account, he has vowed to escalate them. Mass killing under President Duterte must end,” Benedict said.
Other leaders in the Jewish community likewise expressed their disgust over Duterte’s remarks.
The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) demanded an apology.
“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 that is truly heart-breaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country,” Ronald S. Lauder said, as posted on WJC website.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish group based in the U.S., also has this to say.
“These comments by the Philippine president are shocking,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement.
“The comparison of drug users and dealers to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is inappropriate and deeply offensive,” he added.
Greenblatt described Hitler as “a megalomaniac and a mass-murderer” responsible for slaughtering six million innocent Jews and millions more during World War II.
“It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster,” he said, noting how the Philippines once became a refuge for over a thousand of Jews who fled from the genocide.
Responding to all this, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella issued a statement today, October 1, on Facebook.
“The Philippines recognizes the deep significance of the Jewish experience especially their tragic and painful history. We do not wish to diminish the profound loss of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust – that deep midnight of their story as a people.
“The President’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 likewise draws an oblique conclusion, that while the Holocaust was an attempt to exterminate the future generations of Jews, the so-called “extra-judicial killings”, wrongly attributed to him, will nevertheless result in the salvation of the next generation of Filipinos,” Abella said.
He further said that Hitler executed three million innocent civilians while Duterte’s statements were just references to the latter’s “willingness to kill” three million criminals involved in drugs to save the future of his country and the next Filipino generation.
“Those are two entirely different things,” Abella concluded.