Shanti Dope recently released a song titled “Amatz” and in reaction the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has said they plan to have the song banned, believing it promotes the use of illegal drugs.
“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,” PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in a statement.
The artist’s camp released a statement in reaction to that of the PDEA’s.
They stressed that Shanti Dope’s song actually highlights the dangers of taking illegal drugs and they encouraged Dir. Gen. Aquino to “listen to the whole song, and not just take a few lines out of context.”
“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.
“While anyone is welcome to interpret a song or any cultural text, it is also clear that for an interpretation to be valid, it needs to have basis, and must be within the context of the cultural text as a whole. To take apart a song and judge it based on certain lyrics that offend us is unfair to the songwriter; to presume that our reading of a song is the only valid one is offensive to an audience that might be more mature than we think.”
They also said that by banning the song, it “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.”
Read the full statement here: