Where is Sheila?
SHEILA Eballe has gone off the grid.
The outspoken woman who publicly corrected President Rodrigo Duterte that quarrying and not the typhoon caused the massive landslide in Barangay Tinaan, Naga City, has not returned to her home for days now.
Her stepfather, Emilio Librea, told Cebu Daily News in an interview that since his stepdaughter spoke against quarrying in her city when the President visited Naga City on Sept. 21, she could no longer be found anywhere in the city.
The President was at the evacuation center meeting with the evacuees of the Sept. 20 landslide when Eballe told the President that the landslide was the consequence of the quarrying activity near her community in Sitio Sindulan, where about 50 houses had been buried under rocks and rain-soaked soil.
But instead of addressing her concern, the President responded by asking the crowd of evacuees if there was any New People’s Army, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in Naga City.
He also said that Eballe seemed to be “well-trained” to speak in front of a huge crowd.
Librea said the last time they communicated with Eballe was shortly after she was allowed to speak before the President, which was aired live on government television and on Facebook Live.
Librea said that after that incident, he called Eballe to tell her that he found her actions “a little reckless.”
“Wa nami kakita niya gyud sukad katong gabii nga niadto siya sa atobangan ni President Digong. Dili nasad namo siya ma contact karon mao nang wala mi kahibalo asa na siya ron,” said Librea, who resides in the nearby Sitio Greyrocks, also in Barangay Tinaan.
(We haven’t seen her since the night she stood in front of President Duterte. We cannot contact her anymore, that’s why we don’t know her whereabouts now.)
“Kuyaw gyud tung iyahang gibuhat. Baw lang asa siya karon wa na gyud namo na contact. Wala gyud lage unta to niya buhata,” he added.
(What she did was really risky. I don’t know where she is because we lost contact with her. She shouldn’t have done what she did.)
Librea said he worked as a watchman for a quarrying site in Barangay Tinaan but his employment is now in jeopardy after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered to suspend all quarrying and mining activities in Central Visayas.
A neighbor of Eballe, who refused to divulge her identity and who is now staying at the Enan Chiong Activity Center in Barangay East Poblacion, also said that she has not seen the 36-year-old Sheila since Mr. Duterte visited Naga City.
A neighbor of Eballe told CDN that the latter was supposed to stay with them in the evacuation center until the authorities would allow them to return to their homes.
Eballe’s house was not affected by the landslide but she was among those required to evacuate as they live within the danger zone.
“Nabalaka mi kung aha na siya karon. Wala naman siyay balik-balik. Nakurat sad mi nga iyaha tung gibuhat,” the neighbor said.
(We are worried about her. She has not returned since. And we’re also surprised with what she did.)
She believed that Eballe went into hiding after she got what they perceived to be a public rebuke from the President.
Before Eballe spoke, Mr. Duterte was then telling the evacuees about the devastating effects of the typhoon.
A day before visiting Naga City, the President was also in another landslide-stricken area in Benguet province, which was badly hit by typhoon Ompong, where nearly a hundred persons were killed, mostly small-scale miners.
She then stood up and when she was allowed to speak, she said the tragedy they faced had nothing to do with the typhoon but was the result of the quarrying in Tinaan.
The neighbor said she later read a Facebook post by Eballe where she claimed she had been getting death threats.
In a news article published by UCANews, an independent Catholic news organization in Asia, Eballe was reported to have sought the help of environmental and religious groups when she allegedly started receiving threats.
The report quoted Augustinian Recollect Brother Taghoy Jakosalem as saying that “she needs protection because of threats she is facing for speaking the truth.”
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