THE United Nations on Saturday called out President Rodrigo Duterte for likening his war on drugs to Adolf Hitler’s efforts to exterminate Jews, calling them “inappropriate” and “deeply disrespectful.”
But Malacañang, responding to criticisms against the President, explained Duterte was merely “addressing the negative comparison that people made between him and Hitler.”
“I think any use of the Holocaust and the suffering of the Holocaust in comparison to anything else frankly is inappropriate and is to be rejected,” said Stéphane Dujaric, spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, was also alarmed by public comments by Duterte, in which he reinforced a campaign to kill millions of drug addicts in the Philippines and compared it to the massacre of millions of Jews by Hitler during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany during World War II.
“Such a statement is deeply disrespectful of the right to life of all human beings,” Dieng said.
“The Holocaust was one of the darkest periods of the history of humankind and that any glorification of the cruel and criminal acts committed by those responsible was unacceptable and offensive. Such statement was also undermining the efforts of the international community to develop strategies to prevent the recurrence of those crimes, to which all countries around the world should be committed to,” he added.
In related developments:
• The German government told the Philippine ambassador in Berlin that comments by Duterte likening his deadly crime war to Hitler’s efforts to exterminate Jews were “unacceptable.”
The German foreign ministry in a statement said it had asked the Philippine envoy “to come to the ministry for a discussion on the issue.”
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 the Philippines.
• In Ko Olina, Hawaii, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter criticized the “deeply troubling” remarks by Duterte, in reference to Hitler’s efforts to exterminate the Jews.
Carter’s comments came during a regional security summit with Southeast Asian ally nations, where he sought to reassure counterparts that America’s ongoing commitment to its Asia “rebalance” would continue into the next US administration.
Duterte told reporters in his home city of Davao: “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
Carter said the remarks were not discussed at the summit.
But “speaking personally for myself, I find those comments deeply troubling,” he added.
The “informal” meeting of the Asean countries, held on Oahu in Hawaii, focused mainly on longer-standing regional issues such as continued unease over China’s growing reach across the South China Sea.
• Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine also slammed Duterte’s fresh remarks, referencing Hitler and the Holocaust to his administration, fearing such comparison would impact his police and other firearms to “lawlessly slaughter” their fellow Filipinos “without fear of arrest.”
In his statement, Kine also urged the United States and the European Union to urgently send a strong message to the Duterte administration that the technical and financial assistance the Philippines is receiving may be at risk due to its bloody war on alleged drugs which already killed more than 3,000 alleged drug users and dealers since Duterte assumed office in June.
“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments referencing Hitler and the Holocaust are on their face obscene,” Kine said in his statement, expressing frustrations over Duterte’s fresh remarks.
Kine added: “But the lesson of the first three months of Duterte’s presidency is that we should not underestimate the impact of his statements on police and others with firearms to lawlessly slaughter their fellow Filipinos without fear of arrest.”
At the United Nations, Dieng called on Duterte 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.”
He also requested the President to support the investigation of the “reported rise of killings in the context of the anti-crime and anti-drug campaign targeting drug dealers and users to ascertain the circumstances of each death.”
In Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, however, said that Duterte appearing to draw a parallelism between his campaign to wipe out illegal drugs and the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany “are two entirely different things.”
“Hitler murdered 3 million innocent civilians whereas Duterte was referencing his ‘willingness to kill’ 3 million criminal drug dealers—to save the future of the next generation and the country,” Abella explained in a statement.
Abella said the Philippines was cognizant of the deep significance of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, and the Philippine government did not wish to diminish the profound loss of 6 million Jews.
“The President’s reference to the slaughter was an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects,” explained Abella.
“He likewise draws an oblique conclusion, that while the Holocaust was an attempt to exterminate the future generations of Jews, the so-called ‘extrajudicial killings’, wrongly attributed to him, will nevertheless result in the salvation of the next generation of Filipinos,” Duterte’s spokesman reiterated.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, however, said the President was apparently jesting when he said that he’d love to emulate Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“He was just joking,” Evasco, one of Duterte’s most trusted allies, said in Cebu.
The country’s incoming Permanent Representative to the United Nations, former Makati Congressman Teddy Boy Locsin also defended the President by insinuating that Nazis weren’t wrong and may have killed the wrong people.
“You may find this hard to believe but the Nazis were not all wrong, give or take killing millions of the wrong people. Keep an open mind,” Locsin said over Twitter.
In his Friday speech on his arrival in Davao City after a visit to Vietnam, Duterte said he had been “portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler” by critics, as he declared he was “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts.
Duterte also railed against Western critics of his unprecedented law-and-order crackdown.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have …,” he paused while pointing to himself.
The US State Department on Saturday (Manila time) called “troubling” Duterte’s comments likening himself to Adolf Hitler and saying he would be happy to exterminate 3 million drug users.
“America’s … partnership with the Philippines is … based on a mutual foundation of shared values and that includes our shared belief in human rights and human dignity,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
“President Duterte’s comments are a significant departure from that tradition and we find them troubling.”
Toner also advised the Philippine President to tone down his speech, especially so that he’s a ‘head of state.’
“As I said previously, words matter, especially when they’re from leaders of sovereign nations, especially sovereign nations with whom we have a long and, as I said, valued relations with (sic).”
Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on Saturday said killings by state forces of unarmed civilians, even if they are suspected criminals, goes against the principle of due process.
“We do not subscribe to the President’s referencing of Hitler in relation to the war on drugs and the killings of so-called drug addicts. Killings by state forces of unarmed civilians, even if they are suspected criminals, goes against the principle of due process,” said Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general.
“The president is correct in denouncing US and EU hypocrisy in relation to human rights. He, however, should not let human rights violations by state security forces continue under his own watch, much less condone them by invoking the enormity of the drug problem,” he added.
International human rights group Amnesty International (AI), meanwhile, criticized Duterte for his speech, where he drew parallel between the executions of drug addicts in the Philippines and the killings of Jews by Adolf Hitler.
“With this latest outburst, President Duterte has sunk to new depths. Governments—both in the region and around the world—should speak out immediately and condemn these outrageous statements,” said Josef Benedict, AI’s deputy director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in a statement.
“They serve no discernible purpose other than to put more lives at risk.”
AI, which has slammed Duterte for his shoot-to-kill order against officials suspected of being involved in the drug trade, noted the rise in human rights violations since Duterte’s election.
“Since coming to power, there has been a surge of state-sanctioned violence and unlawful killings across the Philippines. Instead of stopping and condemning these human rights violations, and ensuring those responsible are held to account, he has vowed to escalate them,” Benedict added.
“Mass killing under President Duterte must end.”
In August, the US Embassy in Manila announced the $32-million assistance was now subject to “rigorous vetting,” urging the Duterte government to observe the rule of law and due process.
The Philippines is recipient of the US fundings of $32 million to promote human rights and security.
The EU, on the other hand, is giving the Philippines P3-billion assistance every year to improve health and justice system.
The P3-billion funds this time will be spent to improve drug treatment practices in the country, said EU ambassador Franz Jessen.
“The Philippines and the EU are part of the international community where we learn from each other, we share experiences and we work together to address shared problem. Drug abuse is a shared problem, and it has international and national dimensions,” he said.
The mentioned funds are just one of the many assistance that the Philippines has been receiving from the US, EU and other developed countries.