MTRCB to hear PDEA’s bid to ban ‘Amatz’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — The government agency tasked to classify movie and broadcast material would be hearing the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) bid to ban rapper Shanti Dope’s song “Amatz” from the airwaves.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) said Friday it will call parties affected by the issue to hear their positions. It did not say when they would hold a hearing.

"MTRCB recognizes the policy of State that every child has the right to protection against improper influences and circumstances prejudicial to his emotional, social and moral development, but the enforcement of this right has to be balanced with the constitutionally protected freedom of speech or expression,” it said.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino wrote this week to the MTRCB, the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit and ABS-CBN Corporation to stop airing and promoting Amatz as he said the song promotes the use of marijuana.

But the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) said Aquino’s request is “ridiculous,” saying that PDEA should focus on nabbing drug lords instead of interpreting songs.

“It is not PDEA’s job to be a music critic. Neither is it mandated to promote censorship and the suppression of artistic expression,” CAP said.

The group added that Amatz opens up the discussion on drug use, but PDEA risks “degrading the quality and integrity” of the conversation.

The camp of Shanti Dope, 18-year-old Sean Patrick Ramos in real life, has said Aquino took the lyrics of the song out of context as Amatz only refers to a high induced not by drugs, but by music.

They added that the proposed ban will set a “dangerous precedent” for artistic freedom.

The video for Amatz was uploaded on YouTube last month and has received 3.8 million views as of this writing.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Paolo Barcelon contributed to this report.