Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to Jews worldwide Sunday after his remarks drawing comparisons between his bloody anti-drug war and Hitler and the Holocaust sparked shock and outrage.
Duterte lashed out again at Western critics and human rights advocates who have raised concerns over his crackdown, which is estimated to have left more than 3,000 suspected drug dealers and users dead in just three months.
Duterte said in a speech to the Jewish community in the central city of Bacolod that he never had any intention “to derogate the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Germans.”
“I apologize profoundly and deeply to the Jewish community,” Duterte said.
On Friday, Duterte raised the rhetoric over his anti-drug campaign to a new level by comparing it to Hitler and the Holocaust, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” an estimated three million addicts in the Philippines.
In that speech, the president said without elaborating that he has been “portrayed or pictured to be a cousin of Hitler” by his critics.
Moments later, he said, “Hitler massacred three million Jews … there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
While Hitler’s victims were innocent people, Duterte said his targets are “all criminals” and that getting rid of them would “finish the (drug) problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
‘Smear Campaign’ Against Duterte?
United with Israel (UWI) posted the original video of Duterte’s comments on Facebook, which upset many readers in the Philippines. Dozens responded with comments, messages and letters to UWI, saying that the president’s remarks were taken out of context and that the translation didn’t do it justice. They also commended him for his war on crime.
Following are some of the messages:
“Please understand there are a lot trying to pull him down through smear campaigns (by criminals and previous corrupt administration). Also, it is different when we natives hear the words ourselves versus the clips being portrayed by the media due to the difference in language and his mannerisms. God bless Israel!”
“Millions of Filipino Christians support Israel. However if we will also believe the biased reports of international media we Filipinos can probably assume that the Palestinians are also Human Rights victims.”
“Forgive us all filipinos. Our corrupted media is trying to put down our president who is changing our country for the good.”
“Hello! Sir i am from Philippines and we love Israel. Please on’t listen to our media, they misquoted our president and they use it out of context.”
Others, however, denounced his “arrogance” and “dictatorial” methods.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff