MANILA, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Rodrigo Duterte, bombastic Philippine president, decried his critics' comparisons to Adolf Hitler but said Friday he was ready to kill drug addicts by the millions just as the German dictator killed Jews.
Since he assumed the presidency in June, Duterte has issued a series of controversial and inflammatory comments, and initiated a violent campaign against illegal drug use in the Philippines which includes, his critics say, extrajudicial killings by police and civilians of suspected drug dealers and users. Those who oppose his tactics include the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.
Speaking in Manila Friday after a visit to Vietnam, Duterte said of himself, "You're portrayed or pictured to be some cousin of Hitler and yet [critics] do not even bother to find out, to investigate. Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I'd be happy to slaughter them."
He added he sought to "finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition."
He invited the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to investigate his action, as long as Philippine laws are followed.
Duterte's comments were immediately condemned by Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, who said, "These statements are revolting, and President Duterte must retract them and apologize. 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."