Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency presses ban on ‘Amatz’ rap song

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday stood by its recommendation to ban the airing of the “Amatz” song by local rappers Shantie Dope citing its “double meaning” that actually promotes the use of marijuana and shabu.

In its letter dated May 20 to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), and the ABS-CBN Corporation, PDEA chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino sought a stop to the airing of “Amatz” and its nationwide promotion in the media stations.

Aquino defended the agency from many negative reactions or comments in the social media after Shanti Dope’s management released a statement on Wednesday in reaction to their call to ban airing of the song.

“Reality speaks that the chorus of any song, in general, will most likely stick to one’s mind. Majority of those who will hear this over and over will not remember the other parts of the song, especially since it is rap that is delivered so fast that one cannot catch up and understand, and just remember the chorus part instead,” Aquino said.

“The double meaning of the song ‘Amatz,’ the chorus lines in particular, ‘LAKAS NG AMATS KO, SOBRANG NATURAL WALANG HALONG KEMIKAL’ was repeated five times, and the line ‘LAKAS NG AMATS KO’ was repeated 30 times. The rest of the lyrics was not understood when we came to hear the song, but it is just the chorus that is clearly heard,” Aquino explained.

The official pointed out that Shanti Dope’s fans and followers who appreciate their kind of music are mostly the youth.

“Wth their young mind, it appears that the lyrics of the song was referring to the high effect of marijuana, being in its natural/organic state and not altered by any chemical compound, as also to the line of the song --  “ITO HINANGAD KO; LIPADIN AY MATAAS PA SA KAYANG IPADAMA SAYO NG GRAMO.”

Aquino also took exception to the statement of Shanti Dope’s management that  “this ban sets a dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom in the country, when a drug enforcement agency can unilaterally decide on what a song is about, and call for its complete ban because it is presumed to go against government’s war on illegal drugs. This is a brazen use of power, and an affront to our right to think, write, create, and talk freely about the state of the nation.”

Aquino said while it is true as cited in Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of expression,” he noted that this right to freedom of expression, may it be in oral utterances or in written, in papers, radio, television or even in social media is not absolute, and has limitations such as, severe calumny (libel or slander); anything lewd or obscene; anything that provokes violence or disorder; seditious messages; and if it is clear and presents danger, as in the utterances or writing seems serious, grave, immediate and realistic.

Under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a state-party, the freedom of expression carries restrictions, such as respect for the rights or reputations of others, national security, public order, public health and public morals, Aquino said.