GRAMMY award-winning singer James Taylor is making a stand against the Philippines’ war on drugs, announcing the cancellation of his February 2017 concert in Manila.
On his Facebook post, James said that though his work is not at all political, it doesn’t mean he is not going to make a political stand against unacceptable assaults on the rule of law, pointing to the alleged extrajudicial killings in president Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war against drugs.
“I don’t think of my music as being particularly political but sometimes one is called upon to make a political stand,” Taylor said in social media posts on Twitter as well as on his Facebook page.
Several netizens immediately reacted to Taylor’s post, alleging that the reason for the cancellation is poor ticket sales.
However, Ovation Productions, promoter of the concert, denied such rumors via Twitter.
Taylor said that drug addiction has been a worldwide problem, doing harm not just to the addict but to the society as well. And punishing it under the law is understandable; but not through alleged summary executions.
Taylor, 68, rose to fame in the 1970s for writing and performing songs such as “Fire and Rain” and “You’ve Got a Friend” and has won five Grammy Awards over his long career.
In recent press interviews he has openly discussed his recovery from heroin addiction in his teens, just before he became globally famous.
Police or suspected vigilantes have killed thousands of people since July, dismissing the allegations of extrajudicial executions and insists those killed by police, that they had resisted arrest.
“But recent reports from the Philippines summary executions of suspected offenders without trial or judicial process are deeply concerning and unacceptable to anyone who loves the rule of law,” James said on his post.
Taylor informed local promoter Ovation Productions about his decision on Tuesday and rejected last-minute appeals to reconsider, Ovation president and chief executive Renen de Guia said.
Taylor was scheduled to perform in Manila on February 25 next year as part of a foreign tour. He said the scheduled concerts in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand will still push through.
Asked to comment on Taylor’s stand on the drug-related killings, de Guia said: “This is a very sensitive issue and I don’t want to say anything more.”
“I offer my heartfelt apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause my Filipino friends but I must now announce that I will not be performing [in] February,” Taylor said.
All tickets sold will be refunded.
“I’ve been eagerly looking to play for my Philippine audience ever since we added Manila to our tour of the Pacific this coming February, so it saddens me to cancel our concert there,” he wrote.
Just five hours after its posting, James’ announcement earned more than 7,000 likes and more than 2,000 likes.
Despite negative comments on his posts, there were still netizens who respected Taylor’s decision.
Some even applauded him for standing for what he believes is right.