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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte compares himself to Hitler

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during September 30, 2016 news conference

REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raised the rhetoric over his bloody anti-crime war to a new level Friday, comparing it to Hitler and the Holocaust and saying he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million addicts.

Duterte issued his latest threat against drug dealers and users early Friday upon returning to his home in southern Davao city after visiting Vietnam, where he discussed his anti-drug campaign with Vietnamese leaders and compared notes on battling the problem.

“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews ... there’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said, referring to a Philippine government estimate of the number of drug addicts in the country. Historians say 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis under Hitler before and during World War II.

Duterte has said that his public death threats against drug suspects are designed to scare them so they’ll stop selling illegal drugs, and to discourage would-be users. Such scare tactics, he has said, are legal. But his remarks Friday took that crime-busting approach to a different level.

During the presidential election campaign earlier this year and during the three months he has held office, the tough-talking Duterte has threatened to drown drug suspects to fatten the fish in Manila Bay. He also threatened to execute drug traffickers by hanging - because he didn’t want to waste electricity on them - until their heads were severed from their bodies.

While Hitler victims were innocent people, Duterte said, his targets are “all criminals,” and getting rid of them would “finish the (drug) problem of my country.”

His comments were immediately condemned by Jewish groups.

Among them, the World Jewish Congress, whose president, Ronald Lauder, said, “These statements are revolting, and President Duterte must retract them and apologize.” Lauder was in Jerusalem, attending the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Duterte’s remarks will, Reuters observes, heighten pressure on the Obama administration to get tougher on Duterte.

The Filipino leader “recently insulted President Barack Obama​ and, in a series of remarks … has undermined the previously close relationship between Manila and Washington,” Reuters adds.

Duterte “took office on June 30 and over 3,100 people have been killed since then, mostly alleged drug users and dealers, in police operations and in vigilante killings,” Reuters notes.