Shibby de Guzman, 15, does not agree with the president of her country. In fact, many people disagree with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal war on drugs has left thousands dead in the island nation of the Philippines. In 2017, he told E.U. politicians to “go to hell” for raising human-rights concerns, later branding Oxford University as a “school for stupid people” after it published a study claiming he employed an army of online trolls to suppress dissent.
Duterte has received a lot of criticism for his unlawful actions, but he appears to take action against the strongest voices. His fiercest critic, Senator Leila de Lima, was imprisoned for more than one year. Phillipine leaders have historically done everything possible to silence their opposition. None of this, however, has deterred de Guzman.
The young teenager shot to prominence after she was photographed protesting the lionization of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose regime was infamous for its corruption, extravagance, and brutality. She carried a megaphone and wore a cardboard sign similar to those sometimes strewn over the bodies of drug-war victims. In a widely shared social media post, she dismissed critics who alleged that her fellow protesters were “brainwashed,” saying, “We completely know and understand the injustice we are protesting against.
Now in the 10th grade, de Guzman hopes to raise even more awareness of ongoing violence and corruption in the Philippines. She is working to mobilize more individuals her own age.