Philippines President Apologizes For Comparing Himself To Hitler In War On Drugs

By McCarton Ackerman 10/03/16

Last week, Duterte proclaimed, “Hitler massacred three million Jews…there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

Philippines President Apologizes For Comparing Himself To Hitler In War On Drugs
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Photo via NBC/YouTube

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has walked back a statement for the first time in his highly controversial War on Drugs, when he apologized for comparing himself to Adolf Hitler during a press conference last week.

Speaking in his hometown of Davao, the 71-year-old said he would be “happy to slaughter” all three million drug addicts that reside in the Philippines, according to CNN. But while Duterte has made similar statements during his first three months in office, he reached a new low by agreeing with comparisons to Hitler made by his critics.

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…” said Duterte, before pointing to himself.  "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there is ... three million drug addicts (in the Philippines) ... I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

The German government, Jewish groups and human rights advocates worldwide quickly condemned him for his comments. Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, called Duterte’s comments “revolting” and “not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heartbreaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country.”

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter referred to the remarks as “deeply troubling.” Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, even suggested Duterte was “working his way” to being sent to the international criminal court.

But while Duterte has defiantly stood by his controversial actions in his War on Drugs, NBC News reported that he backed down somewhat in his apology to the Jewish community worldwide during a televised speech on Sunday.

“There was never an intention on my part to derogate the memory of the six million Jews murdered. The reference to me was, I was supposedly Hitler, who killed many people. I apologize profoundly and deeply to the Jewish community,” said Duterte. “It was never my intention, but the problem was I was criticized, using Hitler comparing to me."

Duterte’s promise of a War on Drugs is part of the reason he won this year’s election by a convincing margin. More than 3,100 people have been killed since he took office in June, according to Reuters.

However, his razor-sharp tongue isn’t doing him any favors worldwide. After President Obama said he would confront Duterte about his handling of drug dealers in the country, planned bilateral talks between the two were canceled last month by the White House after Duterte referred to Obama as a “son of a bitch” and vowed to swear at him.

In a gross understatement, Duterte released a statement expressing regret that his comments “came across as an attack on the U.S. President. We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.