MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to make sure its members stop airing the song “Amatz” by Filipino rapper Shanti Dope because the song supposedly violates the Broadcaster’s Code of the Philippines.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba made the directive in a June 7 letter to KBP President Herman Z. Basbaño.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino had earlier written to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), and broadcast giant ABS-CBN to stop airing the song and its music video.
Aquino, a former police general, had singled out specific lines from the song including: “Lakas ng amats ko, sobrang natural, walang halong kemikal,” and “Ito hinangad ko lipadin ay mataas pa, sa kaya ipadama sa’yo ng gramo, ‘di bale nang musika ikamatay.”
Aquino said these lines promoted the use of illegal drugs – a claim which Shanti Dope’s management denied. They said the song isn’t about marijuana, but music.
PDEA had earlier written to the NTC as well and said the lyrics of the song “may mislead the innocent youth into thinking that the effects of illegal drug use to be harmless.”
The NTC said that the freedom of expression is not absolute, citing an earlier Supreme Court case. They then cited Article 15, Section 4 of the Broadcaster’s Code of the Philippines which states: “…songs with lyrics or messages that are vulgar, indecent, promote substance abuse, gender discrimination, racism, satanism, violence or sexual perversion, or demeans any member of any sector shall not be played.”
The NTC is tasked to “proactively and continually create a responsive regulatory environment for a viable, affordable, reliable, and accessible telecommunications infrastructure and services to help achieve the holistic development of the society” while the KBP counts close to 300 broadcast media groups and companies as its members.
The KBP is a non-government and non-profit organization that self-regulates the broadcast industry in the Philippines. Most of the country’s biggest broadcast networks are members of KBP, including GMA-7.
Shanti Dope’s management had earlier slammed Aquino’s call to ban the song, saying it “sets a dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom in the country.” A group of artist echoed as much, and called on PDEA to focus instead on drug lords.
Responding to the new letter from the NTC, Shanti Dope’s management said they stand by their first statement. “Universal Records has been speaking with the pertinent government agencies with regards this issue and we think that is enough,” they said in a statement.
The music video for the song had been airing on television and has been available for streaming online since March 2018. Aquino asked for the ban in May, apparently because caught the song on ASAP, an ABS-CBN show. – Rappler.com