The controversial president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has offended the Jewish community in a speech on Friday morning after he likened himself to Hitler and seemingly trivialised the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
In a speech in his hometown of Davao City, Duterte said, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts (in the Philippines), there are.”
“I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have (me). You know my victims, I would like (them) to be all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
Duterte was off on his numbers. Hitler’s purges against the Jews (whom he saw as “undesirables”) resulted in 6 million Jewish men, women and children being murdered.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, in Israel to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, condemned the remarks.
“These statements are revolting, and President Duterte must retract them and apologize,” Lauder said. “We just marked the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar, the massacre of more than 33,000 Jews in Ukraine by Nazi Germany… Now, the elected leader of the Philippines openly calls for the mass murder of people who are addicted to drugs.
“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.”
In response to the criticism a spokesman for Duterte, Ernesto Abella, issued a statement saying, “The Philippines recognises 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.”
Abella then explained that Duterte was just deflecting comparisons that his critics had made against him when they liken him to Hitler – a label which President Duterte rejects.
Abella went on, “Duterte was referencing to his “willingness to kill” 3 million criminal drug dealers – to save the future of the next generation and the country. Those are two entirely different things.”
Duterte has been a controversial president for the Philippines. In the run up to his election he campaigned on a hard line against crime, particularly drug offences, and he is carrying out his crack down by allowing the police to kill drug dealers without trial.
In the past few months over 3,000 alleged drug dealers, or drug users, have been killed on the streets of the Philippines. And as a result over 600,000 people (mainly those involved in drugs) have handed themselves in to police for fear that they too would be killed.
Duterte’s actions and comments have drawn criticism from many around the world, including the European Union, the United Nations and the USA, but he maintains a high level of support from Filipinos who want change in their country.
Despite its current political problems the Philippines has been a long time friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
The Philippines was one of the few countries to open its borders to Jews fleeing the Holocaust and the Philippines has enjoyed a good relationship with Israel until this day (see video below).
In 2013, Israel was one of the first countries to send an aid and rescue team to the Philippines following the devastating typhoon Haiyan (one of the strongest storms ever recorded) that killed thousands and affected over 11 million Filipinos.
“Its the right thing to do” President Manuel L Quezon of the P…WATCH: When every country abandoned the Jews there was one nation that was there to help!
Manuel L. Quezon, second president of the #Philippines, was one of the few world leaders to open his country’s doors to European Jewry desperately trying to escape the clutches of the Nazis. The relationship between the Jewish Nation and the Philippines has remained mutually warm and respectful until this day.
“It’s the right thing to do” President Manuel Quezon
Posted by Christians United for Israel – UK on Saturday, February 13, 2016