PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday apologized to the Jews for his widely condemned remarks last week that drew a parallel between his bloody anti-drug war and Adolf Hitler’s genocide of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
“I apologize profoundly and deeply to Jewish community,” Duterte said in a speech in Bacolod City where he joined the annual MassKara Festival.
“There was never any intention on my part to derogate the memory of six million Jews,” he added.
The President explained he was merely reacting to critics comparing him to Hitler, and since he was already being likened to the hated Nazi leader, he said, “sure I am Hitler, but the ones I will kill are these (drug addicts).”
He said he saw nothing wrong with his statements last Friday, “but they don’t really want you to tinker with memory.”
On Friday, Duterte said he’d be “happy to slaughter” three million Filipino drug addicts, just like Hitler killed millions of Jews.
The remarks were condemned by Germany, the United States, the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Watch and others.
While issuing a qualified apology, Duterte continued to lash out at Western critics and warned he was willing to kick all American troops out of the Philippines (see story on A2).
“The Americans, I don’t like them … they are reprimanding me in public. So I say: ‘Screw you, f**k you, everything else. You are stupid,’” he said.
Duterte also hit out at the Europeans saying: “These stupid lawyers in the EU… well, screw you. I will kick you.”
Since Duterte became President on June 30, more than 3,000 suspected drug peddlers have been killed, roughly half of them by unidentified assailants.
The anti-drug war has drawn criticism from Washington, Brussels and the United Nations.
Amid the barrage of criticism and bad international press, Duterte claimed he had no other recourse but to spew expletives and insults.
“Look at the international press … if I cannot deal with them on an even plane level, and you (critics) do that to me, the best defense I can do is insult you,” he said.
Duterte argued that he did not run to be a “statesman,” but to be a president.
“I’m a simple guy, I took seven years to finish high school … I have no credentials … that’s why I said you should have voted for the valedictorians,” he added.
Opposition lawmakers joined in condemning the President’s “Hitler” remarks.
“The context and essence of President Duterte’s comparing himself to Hitler and resolving to slaughter three million drug criminals, drawing parallelisms to the Holocaust, is vivid and undeniable,” Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a statement on Sunday.
“There is a principle in law that when the language of the statute is clear, there is no need to construe. In the same manner, when the utterance is unmistakable, there is no justification to interpret or mitigate,” said Lagman, a human rights lawyer.
Lagman stressed that the President should not go for outlandish and provocative statements.
“The mouth must be the oracle of discreet and studied statements, not ill-conceived and outrageous utterances,” he said.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said: “Joke or not, the Holocaust is not a reference to be taken and used lightly by anyone. It was the peak of inhumanity that led to violence and death due to hatred and bigotry. Even the words of the common man can be so powerful that the effects may be irreversible. Let alone the President’s.”
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat claimed the President was courting charges of crimes against humanity.
“The President is opening himself for possible prosecution in international courts by saying he would like to slaughter three million Filipinos. Is he implying that it’s open season now for all addicts?” Baguilat said.
“No more rehabilitation? Just kill them systematically like what the Nazis did with the Jews? I thought I can’t be shocked anymore,” Baguilat added.