Right as world leaders were gathering to bury Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel whose relatives Nazis murdered during the Holocaust, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte seemed to praise the Austrian-born German dictator behind their deaths at a press conference in his hometown of Davao.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have,” he said with a pause, and then pointed at himself.
The controversial president, who has launched an aggressive offensive against drug dealers since he took office this summer, went on to say that “Hitler massacred three million Jews” and “there’s three million drug addicts.”
“I’d be happy to slaughter them,” said the democratically-elected president of a U.S. treaty ally.
His remarks were quickly dismissed by World Jewish Congress president, Ronald Lauder, who called them “revolting.” Duterte not only grossly misrepresented how many Jews died during the Holocaust (historians put the number at around 6 million), but also managed to compare drug users to Jews.
And Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, asked if Duterte “wants to be sent to the international criminal court.”
“Because he’s working his way there,” he said.
Duterte is known for running his mouth: In recent months he has used a tagalog phrase that translates roughly to “son of a bitch” to describe U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, and even Pope Francis. In recent testimony before Philippine lawmakers, a witness claimed to have seen Duterte execute a man with an Uzi submachine gun.
In the days before this summer’s presidential election, outgoing President Benigno Aquino warned that Duterte’s rise reminded him of Hitler’s. “I hope we learn the lessons of history,” Aquino said. “We should remember how Hitler came to power.”
Aquino did not seem to mean it as a compliment. Duterte seemed to have taken it as one, painting himself Friday as a savior for the Philippines.
“You know my victims,” he said. “I would like…to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
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