President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines apologized to Jews worldwide on Sunday after his remarks drawing comparisons between his war on drugs and the Holocaust set off outrage.
Duterte who recently insulted President Barack Obama also apologised to Obama later.
In a rambling speech on his arrival in Davao City after a visit to Vietnam, Duterte told reporters that he had been “portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler” by critics.
Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Duterte said: “There are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.
“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.”
Read what Duterte said earlier: Hitler of Philippines.
Duterte said his apology was intended only for Jews.
He lashed out again at Western critics and human rights advocates who have raised concerns over his brutal crackdown, which in three months is estimated to have killed more than 3,000 people suspected of being drug dealers or users.
Duterte said in a speech in the central city of Bacolod that he had never intended “to derogate the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Germans.”
“I apologize profoundly and deeply to the Jewish community,” he said.
Duterte had escalated his antidrug campaign by comparing it to Hitler and the Holocaust.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews,” he said, understating the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust by three million.
Then he added that there were three million drug addicts in the Philippines and said, “I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
In that speech, he said he had been “portrayed or pictured to be a cousin of Hitler” by his critics, although he did not elaborate.
Germany’s government said Duterte’s comments was unacceptable and summoned the Philippine ambassador to its Foreign Ministry.
“It is impossible to make any comparison to the unique atrocities of the Shoah and Holocaust,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Martin Schaefer, said in Berlin, using a Hebrew term for the Holocaust.
The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, said Duterte’s remarks were “revolting” and demanded that he retract them and apologise.
“Drug abuse is a serious issue,” Mr. Lauder said in a statement issued from Jerusalem, where he was attending the funeral of the former Israeli leader Shimon Peres.
“But what President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heartbreaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country.”
Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, which is looking to sustain its longstanding alliance with the Philippines, called the comments “troubling.”