Philippines President likens himself to Hitler

Updated 11:33 AM EDT, Fri September 30, 2016
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Philippines president likens himself to Hitler
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from the press at Manila International Airport on March 23, 2017.  
Duterte warned he may impose martial law and suspend elections for tens of thousands of local posts, fuelling concerns about democracy under his rule. Duterte said he was considering both measures as part of his controversial campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society, and that martial law would also solve a range of other security threats. / AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS        (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from the press at Manila International Airport on March 23, 2017. Duterte warned he may impose martial law and suspend elections for tens of thousands of local posts, fuelling concerns about democracy under his rule. Duterte said he was considering both measures as part of his controversial campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society, and that martial law would also solve a range of other security threats. / AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016.
Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016. Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Philippine soldiers ride in the back of a truck as they leave a military camp in Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 25, 2017, to reinforce soldiers at the battlefront in the city centre days after Muslim extremists attacked the city. Philippine troops aboard helicopters and in armoured tanks battled Islamist militants inside a southern city on May 25, as reports emerged of the gunmen murdering civilians. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016. Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 20: President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping review the honor guard as they attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on October 20, 2016 in Beijing, China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is on a four-day state visit to China, his first since taking power in late June, with the aim of improving bilateral relations. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
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Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016. Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his second news conference after voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines Monday, May 9, 2016. Duterte was leading by a wide margin in unofficial tallies but still refuses to claim victory. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
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Story highlights

NEW: World Jewish Congress called the remarks "revolting"

President Duterte invokes Hitler and massacre of Jews in speech about drug killings

Duterte's comments are the latest in a long line of controversial remarks

(CNN) —  

When comparing yourself to world leaders or historical figures, there are perhaps less controversial choices than Adolf Hitler.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday likened himself to the Nazi leader, saying he wants to kill millions of drug addicts, just as Hitler killed Jews during the Holocaust.

“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there is 3 million, what is it, 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines), there are,” he said in a speech in his hometown of Davao City.

“I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have (me). 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.”

History counts the cost of Hitler’s purges against “undesirables” at 11 million, 6 million of whom were Jews.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, in Israel to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, condemned the remarks.

“These statements are revolting, and President Duterte must retract them and apologize,” Lauder said. “We just marked the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar, the massacre of more than 33,000 Jews in Ukraine by Nazi Germany. … Now, the elected leader of the Philippines openly calls for the mass murder of people who are addicted to drugs.

“Drug abuse is a serious issue. But what President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life.”

The controversial leader campaigned on a hard line against crime, particularly drug offenses, and has in the past uttered statements which have caused many in the international community to recoil.

Hard line on crime

Duterte’s crackdown: 6 stories from the front lines

Since taking office in June, Duterte has stood by his promise to crack down hard on crime, with hundreds of suspected drug users killed by his police force, alongside hundreds of others deaths attributed to vigilante killings.

Police have made thousands of arrests and have implemented a controversial “knock and plead” policy of visiting suspected drug users at their homes and inviting them to register as users with their local community officials.

Duterte is currently embroiled in Senate hearings, defending himself against accusations of police wrongdoing for the drug deaths and claims that he operated death squads in Davao, where he served as mayor for two decades.

Life inside the Philippines’ most overcrowded jail

Duterte himself confirmed the claims during a regular live weekly TV show broadcast locally in the Philippines last year.

“Me? They are saying that I’m part of a death squad? True, that’s true,” he said in a mix of English and Visayan, a language spoken in southern Philippines, before threatening to kill thousands more criminals and dump them into Manila Bay if he was elected president of the Philippines.

He later retracted the statement, but has admitted to killing two kidnapping suspects on a police raid while mayor.

Who said it: Duterte, Trump or Putin?

His political ally, the boxer and Philippines Senator Manny Pacquiao, had Duterte critic Senator Leila De Lima removed as chair of the Justice and Human Rights Committee.

De Lima has long sought to have Duterte officially investigated over alleged death squad killings in Davao, and rights groups have denounced his apparent “impunity.” Duterte has stepped up his attacks on her in recent weeks.

Showdown at the top of Philippines politics: What you need to know

History of controversy

Duterte is no stranger to making outrageous comments. He’s joked about not being able to join the gang rape of an Australian missionary, cursed out the Pope, called both US President Obama and the US Ambassador to the Philippines a “son of a bitch,” and told police they can kill drug dealers if they fight back.

When discussing the pontiff, he said that the traffic caused by Pope Francis’ visit to the country had angered him.

“We were affected by the traffic. It took us five hours. I asked why, they said it was closed. I asked who is coming. They answered, the Pope. I wanted to call him, “Pope, (swear words), go home. Do not visit us again,” he said.

Discussing Obama while in Laos for an ASEAN summit earlier in September, he said: “Who does he think he is? I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people.”

He also declared, “Son of a bitch, I will swear at you,” though he later claimed that remark was directed at a journalist and not at Obama.

On Thursday, he told members of the Filipino community in Hanoi that he would be ending joint Philippines-US military drills after the exercises scheduled for early October.

Duterte: What is he accused of?

Duterte: EU, US ‘hypocrites’

After the Hitler comparison, Duterte went on to defend himself against criticism from the US and EU, which have expressed concerns about Duterte’s war on drugs and allegations of extrajudicial killings.

“You, US, EU, you can call me anything, but I was never into or I am never into hypocrisy like you. Close your doors and when there’s time, there are migrants escaping from the Middle East,” Duterte said.

“You allow them to rot. And then you’re worried about the deaths of a one thousand, two thousand, three thousand?

“That’s why if you were in my position, why would you not curse? You are portrayed or pictured to be some, a cousin of Hitler, and yet do not even bother to find out to investigate this.”

Opinion: Obama needs to speak out on Philippine killings

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the number of deaths in the Holocaust. Eleven million died, 6 million of whom were Jews.