Malacañang on Saturday defended President Rodrigo Duterte after he drew flak for drawing parallels between the Holocaust and his administration’s war on drugs.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte’s reference to the slaughter of Jews during World War 2 by Hitler’s Nazi regime “was an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects.”
“The Philippines recognizes the deep significance of the Jewish experience especially their tragic and painful history,” Abella said in a statement posted on the Presidential Communications Office’s Facebook page.
“We do not wish to diminish the profound loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust – that deep midnight of their story as a people,” he added.
Duterte, in a speech on Friday morning in Davao City following his arrival from an official visit to Vietnam, said he had been “portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler” by his critics.
“Hitler massacred three (sic) million Jews. Now there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City.
The analogy with Hitler, whose campaign to wipe out Jews in Europe led to about six million deaths by end of World War 2, triggered immediate condemnation.
“These statements are revolting and President Duterte must retract them and apologize,” World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said in a statement.
But Abella claimed Duterte only drew “an oblique conclusion, that while the Holocaust was an attempt to exterminate the future generations of Jews, the so-called ‘extra-judicial killings,’ wrongly attributed to him, will nevertheless result in the salvation of the next generation of Filipinos.”
“He was just addressing the negative comparison that people made between him and Hitler,” the Palace official said.
“Hitler murdered three (sic) million innocent civilians whereas Duterte was referencing to his ‘willingness to kill’ three million criminal drug dealers – to save the future of the next generation and the country. Those are two entirely different things,” he added.