Philippines boxing legend turned senator Manny Pacquiao said he tried unnamed drugs as a younger man but he remains a close ally to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who just said he'd be "happy to slaughter" the country's drug users like Nazi leader Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust.
"I tried drugs...many kinds of drugs, all kinds of drugs," Pacquiao said in a Reuters interview published Thursday "The president, he doesn't know my experience with drugs," said the boxer-politician, who is perhaps the country's biggest celebrity. Pacquiao added that he expected the president would be understanding, claiming Duterte, "always gives a chance to people who want to be changed."
Duterte won a presidential election in May, fueled by promises to swiftly kill drug dealers. Since taking office, he has reportedly led a campaign that has had some 3,000 people killed. These extra-judicial killings of drug suspects, or people wrongfully identified as drug suspects, often ends with bodies dumped on the side of road donning signs that read "pusher." It has also been alleged that a so-called death squad operated under Duterte's orders during his time as mayor of Davao City.
Pacquiao is close with the president and called him a "nice guy" in the Reuters interview, while adding that Duterte is "the anointed one."
"God put him there for a reason, for purpose - to discipline the people," Pacquiao said to Reuters.
Some have had far less favorable descriptions of Duterte, critics having gone as far as comparing him to Hitler. Duterte addressed that comparison Friday.
"You're portrayed or pictured to be some cousin of Hitler and yet do not even bother to find out, to investigate," he said during a visit to Vietnam, according to the Philippine Star. "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts. I'd be happy to slaughter them."
The United States, the United Nations and the European Union have all expressed concerns with Duterte's war on drugs.