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UN official cautions Duterte after Hitler remarks

The United Nations (UN) Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on Saturday told President Rodrigo Duterte to be careful with "the use of language" that could lead to "crimes against humanity."

"The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide called upon President Rodrigo 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," a statement issued by the office of UN adviser Adama Dieng said. 

Dieng also expressed alarm over Duterte's remarks drawing parallels between his campaign against illegal drugs and Adolf Hitler's genocidal drive, killing millions of Jews.

"The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed alarm at public comments by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, 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," the statement added.

Fresh from his official visit in Vietnam, Duterte said he would be happy "to slaughter" three million drug addicts.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts... I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said upon his arrival from an official visit in Vietnam.

Dieng said Duterte's statement was "deeply disrespectful of the right to life of all human beings" and that it undermines "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."

The UN official also reminded that 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."

In a statement early Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that Duterte was just "addressing the negative comparison that people made between him and Hitler."

"Hitler murdered three million innocent civilians whereas Duterte was referencing his 'willingness to kill' three million criminal drug dealers - to save the future of the next generation and the country," Abella said, adding that "[t]hose are two entirely different things."

Support probe on killings

Dieng, meanwhile, urged Duterte to support the calls for investigation on the killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.

The Philippine National Police on Saturday reported that a total of 1,323 drug personalities have been killed in its operations from July 1 to September 30.

It also reported that a total of 21,682 drug suspects have been arrested and a total of 729,915 pushers and users have surrendered under Oplan Tokhang.

The police also recently reported that it is investigating the killings of more than 1,000 people, mostly killed by unidentified gunmen who leave notes in the crime scene that accuse the victims as drug pushers.

Send strong message to PHL

An official of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), meanwhile, called on the United States and the European Union to tell the Philippines of possible suspension of aids unless the killings related to the Duterte's war on drugs are stopped.

"Foreign donors such as the United States and the European Union, which provide technical and financial assistance to the Philippine security forces, particularly the Philippine National Police, urgently need to send a strong message to the Duterte government that it risks an immediate suspension of that aid unless the abusive “war on drugs” and its skyrocketing death toll comes to a halt," Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director of HRW, said in a statement.

"More broadly, they should be clear that if Duterte’s assault on some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens continue, their longstanding close relationship with the Philippines will be at risk," he added.

Kine labeled the rising number of suspects killed in Duterte's war on drugs as a "human rights calamity" that requires "urgent and impartial investigation." —ALG, GMA News