THE United States and Germany on Saturday criticized remarks by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in which he likened his deadly war on drugs to Hitler’s efforts to exterminate six million Jews out of supposed frustration at being compared by critics with the hated Nazi leader.
“I’ll stress that [the relationship between the US and the Philippines]has to be one that’s based on shared values, democratic values, respect for human rights, and words matter,” US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in Washington.
“And within that context, President Duterte’s comments are a significant departure from that tradition. And we find them troubling.”
US Defense chief Ashton Carter, in Hawaii for a regional security summit, also said Duterte’s comments were “deeply troubling” a day after saying ties between Manila and Washington were “ironclad.”
Calling out at critics portraying him as a “cousin of Hitler,” Duterte on Friday said he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts, like what the Nazi leader did when he sent the Jews to the gas chambers.
“Hitler massacred three (sic) million Jews. Now there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte told reporters in his home city of Davao shortly after returning from a visit to Vietnam.
“At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have,” he said, then paused. “But you know, my victims, I would like to be (sic) all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
Carter said the remarks were not discussed at the summit.
But “speaking personally for myself, I find those comments deeply troubling,” the Pentagon chief said.
In Hawaii, Carter met his Philippine counterpart, Delfin Lorenzana, a former diplomat who lived for 14 years in Washington.
Carter said he had “very good” discussions with the Philippine Defense chief about the continuation of the two countries’ military alliance, which dates back more than 60 years, and which the Pentagon chief on Thursday said was “ironclad.”
Their meeting drew intense scrutiny following Duterte’s Hitler comments, and other remarks earlier this week in which he vowed to end joint military exercises with the United States to appease China.
The firebrand leader has also insulted US President Barack Obama and extended overtures to China, potentially upsetting the strong US-Philippine alliance.
Lorenzana declined to comment on Duterte’s comments when contacted by AFP.
In Berlin, the German government told the Philippine ambassador that the comments by Duterte likening his deadly crime war to Hitler’s efforts to exterminate Jews were “unacceptable.”
The German foreign ministry said in a statement Friday (Saturday in Manila) that it had asked the Philippine envoy “to come to the ministry for a discussion on this issue.”
“Any comparison of the singular atrocities of the Holocaust with anything else is totally unacceptable,” ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters.
Germany, Europe’s top economy, has expressed serious concerns about Duterte’s crackdown, which has left more than 3,000 people dead in three months and threatened a breakdown of the rule of law in one of Asia’s most chaotic democracies.
In a separate statement, UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide Adama Dieng blasted the President’s remarks as “deeply disrespectful of the right to life of all human beings.”
He also called on the tough-talking leader to exercise restraint in the use of language that could “exacerbate discrimination, hostility and violence and encourage the commission of criminal acts which, if widespread or systematic, could amount to crimes against humanity.”
Dieng said Duterte should support the investigation on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings of more than
3,000 drug suspects, to ascertain the circumstances of each death.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phelim Kine urged the United States and the European Union – among the Philippines’ sources of technical and financial assistance – to send a strong message to Duterte that Manila “risks an immediate suspension of aid unless the abusive ‘war on drugs’ and its skyrocketing death toll comes to a halt.”
Amnesty International said Duterte has “sunk to new depths” with his extremely “distasteful” and “dangerous” outburst.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project, said Duterte should apologize to the victims of the Holocaust for his “outrageous” and “disgusting rhetoric.”
US-based international Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League said the President’s comments were “shocking for their tonedeafness.”
“The comparison of drug users and dealers to Holocaust victims is inappropriate and deeply offensive,” said Todd Gutnick, the group’s director of communications. “It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster.”