By Elena L. Aben and Yas D. Ocampo
President Duterte has been misunderstood anew in his earnest desire to clean the country of illegal drugs and “save the next generation from perdition.”
On Friday, the Chief Executive in a televised early morning presser following his arrival from Vietnam lashed out at his critics who, he said, portrayed him to be a cousin of Hitler and likened his war on drugs to Hitler’s genocide without bothering to investigate.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million, there’s a three million drug addict. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have you know… my victims, I would like to be, all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” he added.
Pentagon chief Ashton Carter, speaking for himself said he found Duterte’s comments “deeply troubling.” Carter is meeting with defense ministers of Southeast Asian nations – the Philippines, included in Hawaii but did not discuss Duterte’s comments.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said President Duterte does not want to be branded another Hitler but he is willing to kill three million people in his war on crime.
“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,” Abella said in a statement
“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 six million Jews in the Holocaust, that deep midnight of their story as a people,” he added.
“He likewise draws 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.”
Abella said the President “was just addressing the negative comparison that people made between him and Hitler.”
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Senior US officials, a UN rights envoy, the German government and Jewish groups quickly condemned Duterte’s comments.
The United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng warned Duterte may be in danger of committing crimes against humanity.
Dieng called on Duterte to “exercise restraint in the use of language that could ‘exacerbate discrimination, hostility and violence and encourage the commission of criminal acts which, if widespread or systematic, could amount to crimes against humanity,’” a UN statement said.
“Any comparison of the singular atrocities of the Holocaust with anything else is totally unacceptable,” said German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer.
Jewish groups, on the other hand, expressed shock and anger and demanded that the President retract his statements and make an apology.
Duterte, 71, won elections in May in a landslide on a campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drugs and end corruption in government. He warned those involved in illegal drugs to stop and vowed no mercy. He said the Philippines is in danger of becoming a narco state.
The President had earlier invited the US, the United Nation rapporteur, and the European Union to come to the Philippines to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects before making any judgment. But he, too, should also be allowed to ask questions to the members of the international investigating teams.
“US, EU, you can call me anything. But I was never into or I am never into hypocrisy like you,” the President said.
“Close your doors, it’s winter time, there are migrants escaping from the Middle East, you allow them to rot and then you are worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?” he added. (With a report from AFP)