PDEA chief to Shanti Dope: Make music 'aligned with war on drugs'

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino isn't backing down on his call to ban rapper Shanti Dope's song "Amatz."

In fact, he's going a step further.

On Monday, May 27, Aquino called on the rapper: make a song that's "in line" with the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

In an interview CNN Philippines' The Source, Aquino said the rapper, whose real name is Sean Patrick Ramos, should make a song that sends a "positive" message. "Sana makagawa siya ng music naman na ito ay aligned sa war on drugs natin. Sana makakabuti sana na gumawa siya ng kanta na para sa mga kabataan na hindi yung nag-popromote na something bad," he said.

(I hope he can make music that is aligned with the war on drugs. I hope he can make a song for the youth that will promote something positive and not anything that's bad.)

Aquino previously said he wanted Shanti Dope's song "Amatz" banned because it supposedly promotes drug use. The rapper's management has denied Aquino's claim. 

Aquino, a former police general, has also written to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) over his concerns. He's also asked ABS-CBN to stop airing the song.

MTRCB is responsible for classifying and rating shows for airing on television, while OPM is the non-government organization, supporting professional singers. Under ABS-CBN is music channel Myx and Sunday variety show ASAP, where Aquino first heard the song.

The music video for "Amatz" was released months back in March.  

Freedom of expression

Aquino insisted his call for a ban wasn't setting a "dangerous precendent" in restricting artistic expressions and creativity. He said the call to ban the song was part of their "harm reduction" efforts in the campaign against illegal drugs.

"Freedom of expression is limited. It's not absolute. Hindi ka na lang pwede kung ano ang gusto mo gawing kanta. Sabi nga nila sa akin...I know people, especially yung fans ni Shanti is bashing PDEA...ayan lang daw yung pinakekelaman namin, yung music. No, makikita mo naman yung accomplishment ng PDEA, kung gaano kalaki na. Pero sabi ko, we are dealing with illegal drugs holistically. Hindi lang pwede yung supply-reduction, demand reduction. Meron din harm reduction," he said.

(You cannot just make a song that you want. I know people, especially Shanti's fans, who are bashing PDEA because we're interferring in music. But you'll see that PDEA has accomplished a lot. We are dealing with illegal drugs holistically. It's not just supply-reduction and demand reduction. We also have harm reduction.)

Shanti Dope's management had said that Aquino should listen to the lyrics carefully and not take a few lines out of context. It also said the move was a "brazen use of power."

The group Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) earlier said Aquino and PDEA should crack down illegal drugs and not be be a "music critic." —Rappler.com