Duterte’s Hitler remarks: foul or just misunderstood?

President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a portrait. (image credit: President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte/Facebook)


On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte once again made headlines when he likened himself to the former leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, during a press conference in Davao City.

During one of his talks in front of the country’s reporters yesterday, September 30, he mentioned that he had been “portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler” by his enemies.

In connection to that statement, he added that: “there are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

“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.” He explained.

International representatives cried foul

Adama Dieng, the United Nations (UN) special adviser on the prevention of genocide, expressed his fear at the strongman’s comments and encouraged Duterte to mind his use of language.

Dieng added that the president should instead support the current investigations on the extra judicial killings in the country.

U.S. President Barack Obama meanwhile did not take the remark seriously, despite prompting anger among Jewish communities in the US.

However, Mark Toner, U.S. State Department spokesman stressed that he found Duterte’s remarks “troubling.”

Head of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project, Rabbi Abraham Cooper called the statements “outrageous”, emphasizing that the Philippine president owes the Holocaust victims an apology for what he described as a “disgusting rhetoric”.

Another international Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League based in the U.S. said that Duterte’s statement was “shocking for their tone-deafness.”

The Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish group based in the United States, said Duterte’s comments were “inappropriate and deeply offensive.”

Former president Aquino’s Hitler warning

It can be remembered that two days before the 2016 PH elections, then President Benigno Aquino warned the public of Duterte’s dramatic popularity, invoking Hitler’s own rise to power in the 1920s to 1930s.

“I hope we learn the lessons of history,” former President Aquino said, adding that, “we should remember how Hitler came to power.”

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte did not escape the ire from Berlin, Germany. German government told the PH ambassador that Duterte’s comments were “unacceptable”.

“Any comparison of the singular atrocities of the Holocaust with anything else is totally unacceptable,” German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters.

Duterte, misunderstood?

Supporters of the president quickly came to his side and defended his statement, emphasizing that again, Duterte was misunderstood.

The president’s representative immediately qualified that although Duterte invoked Hitler and the death of the victims of his rule, he argued that he said those statements to prove a point.

Duterte rejects Hitler comparison

Ernesto Abella, Duterte’s spokesperson clarified that the president’s statement was “an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects.”

Abella added that, “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 6 million Jews in the Holocaust – that deep midnight of their story as a people,” he continued.

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