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An alliance involving people in the arts and media slammed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on the ban in the airing of Amatz, which is composed and performed by rapper Shanti Dope.

The LODI (Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity), in its statement posted in its Facebook page, said the PDEA is moving outside of the scope of its mandate.

“(We) stand squarely behind Shanti Dope and his and the public’s right to free expression, and condemn the PDEA for overreaching its mandate by venturing into censorship,” it said in its statement.

The group chided PDEA for “falsely and maliciously interpreting Amatz or any song for that matter.”

It also called the proposal of the agency to ABS-CBN, OPM and MTRCB to ban the song “illegal and unconstitutional.”

“President Duterte himself has admitted that the drug problem has not been solved despite the brutal extrajudicial killings,” it said.

“Perhaps this is due, partly, to PDEA wasting time and effort in music criticism and attempts at censorship. PDEA should focus on big-time drug syndicates including those associated with the regime,” it added.

The group also slammed PDEA over its attempt to act beyond its mandate in censoring media. “The Constitution and the law creating PDEA do not grant it that authority. Neither can presidential orders or feelings,” it said.

“(The) PDEA should spare the nation from further embarrassment by stopping its battle against Shanti Dope. Shanti Dope and free expression are not the enemy,” it added.

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