Collision on course

May 26, 2019

It is the classic clash of an irresistible force impacting an immovable object.

The artistic or creative community is an extremely  zealous lot.

Writers, visual artists, filmmakers, composers, arrangers, and even singers, and musicians are zealous protectors of their artistic or creative freedom.

We really cannot blame them because their right to write scripts, musical lyrics, and arrangements, paint visual images or sculpt people, objects and buildings are guaranteed by the Constitution under the Freedom of Expression clause.

But, on the other hand, the State also has an equal constitutional right to ban extreme or hateful speech, language or utterance that are decidedly seditious, promoting rebellion against the government or terrorism and other violence against the State and its citizens.

State censorship, however, is a tricky road that leads to a slippery slope.

Once an artistic ban is imposed on one creative field, the other areas of artistic expression are potentially under the cloud of state censorship.

Even the US does not impose an absolute artistic ban; American authorities only issue advisories against extreme or violent contents in films, music recordings, and even in print publishing.

And so, we advise state regulatory and enforcers to tread cautiously in the matter of putting restraints on artistic or creative expression.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has asked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board to ban the airing of the song of Shantie Dope titled “Amatz”, which allegedly contains lyrics pertaining to the effects of illegal drugs.

In a letter dated May 20, PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino requested the MTRCB, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit, and the ABS-CBN Corp. to prevent playing of the song and its promotion in the different media stations throughout the country.

The chorus of the song is mostly about "Lakas ng amats ko, sobrang natural, walang halong kemikal."

The lyrics also mention, “Ito hinangad ko; lipadin ay mataas pa sa kayang ipadama sayo ng gramo, di bale ng musika ikamatay,” which the PDEA chief said promotes the use of marijuana.

“It appears that the singer was referring to the high effect of marijuana, being in its natural/organic state and not altered by any chemical compound,” Aquino explained.

“We respect and appreciate our artists in the music industry. However, we strongly oppose the promotion of musical pieces or songs that encourage the recreational use of drugs like marijuana and shabu. It is contrary to our fight against illegal drugs,” he added.

Aquino said airing songs that feature the use of illegal drugs as harmless could mislead the vulnerable youth and make them believe that it is all right to use illegal drugs.