AFTER five-time Grammy winner James Taylor announced Wednesday he had decided to cancel his February 2017 concert in Manila because of alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the Duterte Administration’s anti-drug war, the public took to social media with mixed reactions.
Taylor, the American singer and songwriter who shot to fame in the early ‘70s with hit songs such as “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Fire and Rain,” drew praise from netizens for his political stand, but others jeered him for meddling in another country’s affairs.
“It’s time everyone took a stand against the thug murderer of the Philippines, he should be held in international court and tried for crimes against humanity,” user Terry Lightfoot said on Twitter.
Hong Kong national Dorothy Tse posted, “I am from Hong Kong glad to see a singer speak up and stand up for rule of law and human rights. I didn’t know you before but now I am interested to know more about you and your songs.”
Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte rallied behind the leader, with Facebook user John Asuncion leading the pack with the post, “I’m a big fan but you are misinformed. Our country needs this and it’s just small political opposition that’s noisy. I hope you reconsider. Come over and see for yourself.”
Cris Aldea pointed out, “James, how about the killings in your country? What are you going to say about it? As your incoming president says it’s because of drugs too and it has doubled last year. Before you insult another country check yours first.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said Taylor should visit the country to see for himself that there’s “no alarming’ cases of extrajudicial killings.
PNP spokesman Sr. Supt. Dionardo Carlos told reporters in Camp Crame the decision to cancel the February concert was likely because of the “incorrect information that he [Taylor] is getting on the peace and order situation in the Philippines.”
Shortly after Taylor released his statement, there were speculations that the concert was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. The Manila Times sought the reaction of the Philippine promoter of the show, Ovation Production’s Renen de Guia who denied the allegation.
“This type of adult contemporary market is starkly different from that of the millennial market in terms of fans’ buying patterns…A seating plan layout does not explain that older people start buying tickets two weeks prior to the event. It is only young people who buy as soon as artists announce their upcoming concert. Young fans know that tickets can sell out in minutes due to online selling so they buy early. And although tickets to older artists’ concerts are also available online, older audiences have not changed their buying ways,” he said.
Ovation Productions tried to convince Taylor to change his mind about canceling his concert, but was unsuccessful.
On Wednesday, Taylor took to social media with the statement: “I’ve been eagerly looking forward to playing 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. I don’t think of my music as being particularly political but sometimes one is called upon to make a political stand.”
The 68-year-old artist apologized to his Filipino fans for the inconvenience his decision caused. He said all tickets would be fully refunded and his performances in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand won’t be affected by the cancellation of his show in Manila.
WITH ANTHONY VARGAS