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Duterte apologizes to Jews for Hitler remarks

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday apologized to the Jewish community, following his pronouncements last week saying he was willing to do to the country's criminals what Hitler did to the Jews.

"I would like to make it here and now that there was never an intention on my part to derogate the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Germans... I apologize profoundly and deeply to the Jewish [community]," Duterte said during the opening ceremony of the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.

This comes after Duterte last week said he was willing to slaughter three million addicts in the country under his intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them," he told reporters in Davao.

"At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have… You know my victims, I would like to be, all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition," he added.

Responding to this, international bodies such as the Pentagon and the United Nations expressed criticisms over his remarks.

Jewish groups have also expressed dismay over such "outrageous" pronouncements.

"Duterte owes the victims (of the Holocaust) an apology for his disgusting rhetoric," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wisenthal Center's Digital Terrorism and hate project said.

"The comparison of drug users and dealers to Holocaust victims is inappropriate and deeply offensive," Todd Gutnick, director of communications of the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish group based in the United States, added.

Hitler comparison

Explaining his remarks, Duterte said that it was not his intention to derogate the memory of the jews, and he was only reacting to his critics who were referencing him to Adolf Hitler.

"It was never my intention but the problem was I was criticized using Hitler," he said.

This was the same explanation made by Malacañang on Saturday, saying that the President was merely "addressing the negative comparison that people made between him and Hitler."

"The President's reference to the slaughter was an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murdered, a Hitler, a label he rejects," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

"It is a matter of record that the reference to Hitler did not originate from the President.  Days before the May presidential elections, the President’s opponents introduced this issue to gain political mileage,” he said in another statement. —ALG, GMA News