Holocaust apologia in the Duterte-Robredo era

April 17, 2018 - 2:39 PM
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President Rodrigo Duterte and VP Leni Robredo are seen in file photo at the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at the PICC. (Photo from Pool/Russell Palma)

Vice President Leni Robredo was part of a Liberal Party delegation in Germany that was criticized for posing with wide smiles in front of the Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe.

Robredo and another LP figure, Representative Teddy Baguilat J.R (Ifugao) have apologized for their “lapse.”

While criticism for the photo-op came from both administration supporters and proponents alike, some in the punditry have pointed to another unfortunate “lapse” by a high-ranking official in dealing with a holocaust that cost the lives of six million beings.

‘There was never any intention on my part’

Back in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte had to apologize for likening himself to the architect of the Jewish holocaust, Adolf Hitler.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. There’s three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” said Duterte in news that would be picked up around the world.

Following outrage from Jewish communities, Duterte issued an apology for his statement.

“I would like to make it [clear] here and now that there was never intention on my part to derogate the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Germans.”

Recognizing both the outcry from the Jewish community and the comparisons drawn between him and history’s most notorious despot, Duterte added “if it left a bad taste in the mouth” but qualified that his remarks had nothing to do with the Holocaust and that his apology was reserved for the Jewish.

“They said I love to curse. What would be my defense when you pretend to be a friend of the Philippine? America, and the Human Rights (Council) of the United Nations, when they hit you, you cannot do anything. They hog the international press. Your response will not reach them.”

It was an apology turned into a tirade against Western bodies’ continued criticism of his anti-drug campaign.

‘I take full responsibility’

Two years later and it is Duterte’s vice president making amends:

“While there was no malice in it, I take full responsibility, so I would like to apologize for whatever offense to the sensitivities of the people it caused.”

The other LP officials in the photo were Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City, 6th District), Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao) Rep. Miro Quimbo (Marikina City), Rep. Jorge Banal (Quezon City, 3rd District), Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Dinagat) and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Robredo also had to answer allegations that public funds were used to finance the trip. She had to explain that it was Germany’s Friedrich Naumann Foundation that financed the trip.

The meeting with the foundation was supposedly to discuss matters of policy, governance and eradication of poverty.