Artist groups rally behind young Pinoy rapper Shanti Dope after receiving flak from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and claim that the agency is touching on a field they have nothing to do with, saying it’s not their job to be music critics.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines said in a Facebook post that it also found it ridiculous that PDEA “has the gall—and the time and resources—to ask the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM) and ABS-CBN Corporation to halt the distribution” of Shanti Dope’s rap song “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,” the artists’ group said.
“One thing, however, is clear: it is not PDEA’s job to be a music critic. Neither is it is mandated to promote censorship and the suppression of artistic expression,” the group added.
“We warn the PDEA: Leave the cultural commentary to the musicians, the fans, and the public at large,” the group’s statement read. “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.’”
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino earlier asked the MTRCB to ban the airing of the song, claiming that the lyrics allegedly promotes the recreational use of marijuana.
Shanti Dope’s management then slammed PDEA’s action, saying that the ban “sets a dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom in the country.”
“The song in question, released two months ago, is open to interpretation,” the Concerned Artists of the Philippines said.