Concerned Artists of the Philippines cry foul over PDEA plan to ban Shanti Dope song “Amatz”

by Arniel C. Serato
May 25, 2019
Concerned Artists of the Philippines on Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's move to ban Shanti Dope single "Amatz": "Everyone is free to debate on the merits of the song, and its repetitive message of a “natural high” can be interpreted in many ways. One thing, however, is clear: it is not PDEA’s job to be a music critic. Neither is it mandated to promote censorship and the suppression of artistic expression."
PHOTO/S: Courtesy: Shanti Dope on Facebook

Tinuligsa ng Concerned Artists of the Philippines o CAP—ang organisasyon ng mga artista, mang-aawit, manunulat, filmmakers, at cultural workers sa bansa—ang plano ng Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency o PDEA na i-ban ang current single na “Amatz” ng 18-year-old rapper na si Shanti Dope.

Sa inilabas na pahayag ni PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino noong nakaraang Huwebes, May 23, sinabi nitong ang lyrics ng kanta ay nagpo-promote sa paggamit ng marijuana.

Kontra daw ito sa kampanya ng kasalukuyang administrasyon laban sa illegal drugs.

Sigaw ng CAP: "#HandsOffOurMusic."

Sa inilabas na pahayag ng CAP sa Facebook kagabi, May 24, sinabi ng oranisasyon na hindi nila pinapayagan ang pagpapalaganap ng mga musika na naghihikayat sa mga taong gumamit ng mga iligal na droga.

Hindi rin daw nakamandato sa PDEA ang maging kritiko ng mga awitin o musika.

Binalaan din nila ang nasabing ahensiya na huwag makialam sa music industry, bagkus pag-igihin na lamang nito ang kanilang trabaho sa pagsugpo ng iligal na droga at panghuhuli ng mga drug lords.

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Narito ang buong pahayag ng Concerned Artists of the Philippines [published as is]:

"Artists to PDEA: Crack down on druglords, not songs! #HandsOffOurMusic!

"We, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, find it ridiculous that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has the gall—and the time and resources—to ask the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the OPM-Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), and ABS-CBN Corporation to halt the distribution of the song “Amatz” by our fellow musician Shanti Dope.

“We respect and appreciate our artists in the music industry,” said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino in a recent statement. “However, we strongly oppose the promotion of musical pieces or songs that encourage the recreational use of drugs like marijuana and shabu.”

"The song in question, released two months ago, is open to interpretation. Its lyrics actually open the conversation on drug use: “Amat, dapat ka nga ba dinadama? / Dapat ka nga ba minamata?” Within the span of the song, it raises a debate of synthetic drugs vs natural drugs, or should one even do drugs at all?

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"The earlier part even hints at how music holds the potential to keep young people from addiction: “Sabi nila sa'kin nung bata, ay ano ka kaya pag tanda mo? / Itong hinangad ko liparin ay mataas pa sa kaya ipadama sa'yo ng gramo.” If any, the song humanizes drug users and their experience.

"Everyone is free to debate on the merits of the song, and its repetitive message of a “natural high” can be interpreted in many ways. One thing, however, is clear: it is not PDEA’s job to be a music critic. Neither is it mandated to promote censorship and the suppression of artistic expression. The discourse of drug use and addiction is best debated in an atmosphere of freedom, honesty, and interdisciplinary cooperation. With this move tantamount to censorship, PDEA actually runs the risk of degrading the quality and integrity of the national conversation on the subject.

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"We warn the PDEA: Leave the cultural commentary to the musicians, the fans, and the public at large. Instead, focus on your mandate to jail the big druglords who still roam free. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte and the Philippine National Police admitted in recent statements that the country’s drug problem has “worsened.” Why is the agency wasting the taxpayer’s money picking on a rap song, instead of reeling in the big fish?

"As long as the chief purveyors of illegal drugs remain, so will the culture of drug use and the social illness of addiction—and cultural expressions like music are mere reflections of this.

"Perhaps the PDEA can learn something from Shanti Dope’s song which they so loathe: “Di bale nang musika ikamatay, kesa pera't atraso, bala ng amo.”

"Hands off our music! Police the druglords, not our musicians! Defend artistic freedom!"

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Pinalagan na rin ang planong ito ng PDEA ng management ni Shanti.

Sabi pa nila sa isang pahayag, "This is all in the first part of the song. And NONE of it promotes marijuana use.

"In fact it clearly shows the persona taking a stand against illegal drugs, while at the same time pointing out that what has made him 'fly' (so to speak) is not drugs, but music."

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Concerned Artists of the Philippines on Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's move to ban Shanti Dope single "Amatz": "Everyone is free to debate on the merits of the song, and its repetitive message of a “natural high” can be interpreted in many ways. One thing, however, is clear: it is not PDEA’s job to be a music critic. Neither is it mandated to promote censorship and the suppression of artistic expression."
PHOTO/S: Courtesy: Shanti Dope on Facebook
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