19 June 2019
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines denounces the ban ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission on Shanti Dope’s rap piece, “Amatz,” on the request of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
At the same time, we deplore the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas’ hasty acquiescence to the NTC’s directive to keep Amatz off the airwaves and strongly urge it to reconsider its position for its grave implications on our basic rights and liberties.
Not only is the ban unconstitutional for trampling on the very essence of freedom of expression, it is stupid, based on a completely wrong interpretation of the song, something a simple reading of the lyrics beyond the PDEA’s silly tally of the number of times “Amatz” is repeated would have shown.
But the crux of the matter is not even what a song may or may not mean. It is that agencies of this government apparently believe they have the power to dictate what we may or may not say and, corollary to this, what we may or may not think.
It is not difficult to trace where this mindset stems from. After all, they have a chief executive who has effectively suspended the rule of law and the right to due process, as his murderous war on drugs and now, on dissent, have proven.
Over the past three years, we have seen how this government and its minions have waged a campaign to control the narrative by swamping the truth with disinformation. This outrage, if left unchallenged, could very well spell the beginning of official control of what we may or may not say or think.
It falls on us, the community of independent Filipino journalists and media outfits, on artists, creatives and cultural workers and, indeed, the Filipino people, to ensure this does not happen.