President Rodrigo Duterte has compared the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust, saying he would kill as many addicts as Hitler did Jews.
The Filipino president said: “Hitler massacred three million Jews… there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
At least six million Jews as well as other minorities are known to have been killed by the Nazis.
Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a bloody crackdown on drug users and dealers since taking office in June.
According to official figures, more than 3,000 people have been killed in police operations or by vigilantes.
The bodies of those killed are often left out in public, with signs listing the crimes they were accused of.
He was speaking in Davao, the city where as mayor he implemented a tough anti-crime policy and was accused of sanctioning death squads to kill criminals.
Rodrigo Duterte told reporters he had been “portrayed to be some cousin of Hitler” as he lashed out critics who he said were accusing him of genocide.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews, now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said.
According to local news website Rappler, the most recent figures in the Philippines – released earlier in the week – suggests the number of drug users in the country is closer to 1.8 million, just 1.8% of the overall population.
Rodrigo Duterte’s rambling speech continued: “At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…” – at which point he is reported to have pointed to himself.
His comments were criticized as “outrageous” by Jewish groups, Reuters reports.
“Duterte owes the [Holocaust] victims an apology for his disgusting rhetoric,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The US-based Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League said the comments were “inappropriate and deeply offensive”.
“It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster,” said communications director Todd Gutnick.
Rodrigo Duterte also used the speech to once again accuse the West of hypocrisy over their criticism of his brutal crackdown.
“You US, EU. You can call me anything. But I was never into… hypocrisy like you,” he said.
“There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you’re worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?”