Philippine President Duterte apologises to Jews for Hitler remark

Duterte says he did not intend to derogate the memory of slain Jews.

Philippine President Duterte apologises to Jews for Hitler remark
Philippines President Duterte gestures while delivering a speech before female police officers during a gathering in Davao city, Philippines September 30, 2016 Reuters

President Rodrigo Duterte apologised to the Jewish community on Sunday for his remarks drawing parallels between Adolf Hitler's killing of Jews during the Holocaust and his campaign against illegal narcotics trade.

During his speech at the opening ceremony of the 37th Masskara festival in Negros Occidental, Duterte said he did not intend to derogate the memory of slain Jews.

"I apologise profoundly and deeply to the Jewish community," Duterte told Philippine Daily Inquirer.

On Friday, Duterte said in Davao City that the critics have portrayed him "to be some cousin of Hitler". Duterte said he would be "happy to slaughter" three million drug addicts in the Philippines noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews.

"If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have...," he said as he paused and pointed at himself.

"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," Duterte added.

But, such remarks drew condemnation from the UN, German and Israeli governments, the Pentagon and international rights groups.

United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed his concern over Duterte's provocative comment on the ongoing drug war in the Philippines.

"Speaking personally for myself, I find those comments deeply troubling," Carter told the reporters on Saturday.

Almost 3,500 people have been killed in the Philippines in the campaign against illegal drugs trade since Duterte won the May elections in a landslide victory and came to power.

Before becoming the President, Duterte vowed to kill tens of thousands of criminals and to get rid of illegal drugs in the country in six months. However, recently he asked for some more time to complete his crackdown.

Referring to his promise, Duterte said last month: "I did not realise how severe and how serious the drug menace was in this republic until I became president."