NTC orders KBP, member stations to stop playing Shanti Dope’s ‘Amatz’

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Shanti Dope’s “Amatz” has been criticized by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for supposedly promoting marijuana use.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 17) — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and its member radio and television stations to prohibit the airing of Shanti Dope’s “Amatz.”

In an order dated June 7, NTC said the directive was in line with the government’s war against illegal drugs.

“Together with the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), the Commission strongly supports President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's fight against illegal drugs and as part of our commitment to this administration's crusade, the KBP is hereby directed to enforce compliance with Article 15, Section 4 of the Broadcast Code regarding the song "Amatz" by Shanti Dope in all its member radio and TV stations,” the document read.

Article 15 (Music), Section 4 of Broadcast Code of the Philippines 2007 states that, “Songs with lyrics or messages that are vulgar, indecent, promote substance abuse, gender discrimination, racism, Satanism, violence or sexual perversion or demeans a member of any sector of society shall not be played.”

While the commission recognized the “freedom of expression” of Shanti Dope, Sean Patrick Ramos in real life, it said the right is “not absolute” if it "contravenes public interest, public order, public safety and the general welfare of the children and youth.”

In May, PDEA pushed for the banning of “Amatz” from the airwaves, saying it promotes marijuana use.

Shanti Dope’s management earlier said authorities may have taken the song's lyrics out of context. His camp said the song refers to the "natural high" of creativity and making music, through which the persona found his identity.

They added the ban will only set a dangerous precedent that could impact on artistic freedom.

The anti-drug agency, meanwhile, lauded NTC’s directive.

“PDEA pushes for the banning of the song “Amatz”, for its double meaning. The song, as a whole, seemingly enjoins the public that recreational use of illegal drugs like marijuana and shabu is harmless,” it said in a statement Monday.