Just when you thought he couldn’t say anything more inflammatory, the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte makes headlines again:
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.”
Duterte, who has been doing his utmost to put distance between the Philippines and the United States, will head to China in mid-October. He will be accompanied by a coterie of businessmen, and a slew of deals are anticipated. Whether some kind of agreement over Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea is among them remains to be seen. The Chinese have not yet confirmed the meeting, and have been sounding cautiously optimistic about the relationship in official pronouncements. Ahead of Duterte’s recent outburst, Beijing said it “understands and supports” the crackdown drugs and said it was “willing to co-operate” with Manila.
Politically, however, you can’t argue that Duterte has been anything but successful at home. His violent crackdown on drug dealers and willingness to thumb his nose at critics abroad has earned him an approval rating of 92 percent.