Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman says the president rejects being labeled as a mass murderer or linking himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
During a speech Friday, Duterte said “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts … I’d be happy to slaughter them."
The comment received criticism from various officials and organizations around the world, prompting the president's spokesman, Ernesto Abella, to issue a statement Saturday.
"We do not wish to diminish the profound loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust ... The president's reference to the slaughter was an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects."
Jewish groups, senior U.S. officials, the German government and U.N. representatives quickly condemned Duterte's comments.
His spokesman confirmed that Duterte's plan is still to kill drug dealers and addicts to achieve his goal to eliminate drugs in the country. "Duterte was referencing to his 'willingness to kill' three million criminal drug dealers - to save the future of the next generation and the country."
Reports say that since Duterte took office on June 30, more than 3,000 people have been killed by police and vigilantes for alleged drug use or peddling.