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Shoot the messenger

MANILA (SE): “If Germany had Hitler, The Philippines would have…,” the president of the nation told a crowd in his heartland of Davao City on September 30 as he turned the finger of his hand poignantly towards himself.

Speaking upon his return from a state visit to Vietnam, Duterte sparked an immediate outcry from representatives of survivors’ groups from the Adolf Hitler extermination camps and Jewish groups the world over.

The story hit the world headlines courtesy of the international news agency, Reuters, when two local journalists put together his remarks and placed them on the worldwide wire.

The publicity also prompted an outcry from Filipinos, calling for someone to “Shoot the messenger,” as people both at home and overseas took to Facebook to demand the deaths of the two journalists for daring to publish the incriminating remarks of the Philippine leader expressing the desire to have up to three million of their country people killed.

“What frightens me is the number of people on Facebook, some of them friends of mine in real life, who support him. Many are women, here in The Philippines and Filipinos living overseas, some of them now citizens of other countries,” a shocked and amazed long time missionary to The Philippines, who did not wish to be named, commented.

“Now some on Facebook are in shoot the messenger mode condemning the two Filipino journalists from Reuters over their reporting on the Hitler statement. Yes, what the president said is there on video and in print. Nobody has distorted what he said,” the missionary pointed out.

“But the messengers did little other than transcribe his remarks recorded on video and print them,” he noted in amazement.

Rappler.com reported that Duterte apologised for his insensitive remark two days later when addressing the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.

“My critics were saying, ‘Duterte is like Hitler. He’s a killer.’ So I said when I arrived at the airport from Vietnam, ‘Okay, fine, I’m Duterte, I’m a killer’,” the rambunctious president said.

“I would like to make it (clear) now, here and now, that there was never an intention on my part to derogate the memory of six million Jews murdered by the Germans,” he continued.

However, he backtracked on his remark later in his address, adding, “The problem was I was criticised using Hitler. (He was compared with me). But I was emphatic, I said I would kill three million drug addicts.”

Then wading in deeper, he said, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts… I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

The government in Germany, however, called his remarks unacceptable and even the manager of iconic boxer, Manny Pacquiao, Bob Arum, called it reprehensible. Arum has some Jewish background.

A spokesperson in Malacañang blamed Duterte’s political rivals for the bad press, calling it a crude attempt to vilify him.

While many Filipinos point to Duterte as being a relatively incorrupt politician, the missionary said, “For many years I have seen him to be an evil person, as distinct from a crook.”

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