PUERTO PRINCESA CITY?Heavy rains earlier considered unlikely to occur in Palawan have caused waist-deep floods that submerged low-lying areas in various parts of the province, prompting evacuations.
The provincial government reported on Monday morning that at least three municipalities in central mainland Palawan had been affected?Narra, Aborlan and Roxas.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 500 households were already in various evacuation centers.
Bad weather continued to hamper domestic flights, forcing three carriers to cancel trips Monday to Basco in Batanes, Tagbilaran in Bohol, and Surigao.
The public has been warned, especially along the country?s eastern seaboard, to brace for more rain this week, which could worsen the crisis that began in late December.
The floods have affected at least 1.5 million people in 25 provinces.
Across large parts of the country, the death toll from nearly three weeks of torrential rains that caused flooding and landslides rose to 51, officials said.
In the village of Caramay in Roxas town, the Palawan provincial disaster council said 40 fishing boats had been washed into the sea by rising flood waters while several villages in Aborlan had been isolated because of the destruction of bridges connecting them to the main roads.
Daisy Anne Atrero, provincial information chief, said evacuations began on Sunday evening while rescue operations started on Monday morning.
?Several bridges have been reported not passable?namely, the Magbabadil, San Juan in Aborlan and Antipuluhan-Elvita bridge in Narra,? Atrero said.
Narra hardest hit
Narra appears to be hardest hit, according to various reports.
The town hosts several small-scale nickel mining projects granted permits by the previous provincial administration. These were blamed for widespread destruction of rice lands and have been penalized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
?This is the first time we have experienced this kind of flooding,? a farmer from Narra, whose family evacuated on Sunday night, said on a local radio program.
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn raised concerns in a local radio interview that areas where previous mining operations had destroyed large tracks of forests were prone to more flooding.
?This is the reason I will never allow any mining in Puerto Princesa,? Hagedorn said.
The provincial disaster council said 150 households were evacuated from the villages of Elvita, Malinao, Panacan and the poblacion of Narra; 200 households in Aborlan; and 300 families in the northern town of Roxas.
Some 100 families from Sitio Tagbarungis in Barangay Inagawan, Puerto Princesa, were brought to the barangay health center, which served as their temporary evacuation center, according to the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.
The military?s Western Command has dispatched several rubber boats and military trucks, including medics, to affected areas.
Palawan Gov. Abraham Kahlil Mitra has ordered the speedy delivery of relief assistance, Atrero said.
In Catanduanes province, six fishermen went missing in two separate incidents over the weekend, the Catanduanes disaster council said in its report.
In Pandan town, out of the 21 fishermen who sailed on Saturday, only 19 made it to shore.
Two others, Narciso de Quiroz and Roberto Icamen, were missing.
The report said the fishermen were on two motorized boats that capsized due to strong winds and waves.
In Bato town, Mayor Leo Rodriguez said three fishermen who went out to sea on Sunday afternoon failed to return early morning the following day.
They were identified as Severino Valenzuela, Jaciel Teope and Bernie Penancio, all residents of Barangay Bote in Bato town.
Rescuers could not mount a bid to find them due to rough seas, the Bato local government said.
One more fisherman was reported missing, this time off the waters of Viga town, after a boat with five men sank on Sunday morning. Four fishers were able to return at 5:30 p.m. on the same day, disaster officials said.
In Camarines Norte province, three fishermen from Vinzons town have been reported missing since Friday.
Fifteen passengers were rescued off Bohol province on Monday noon after a motorized banca (boat) almost sank.
The banca had asked for help when it was about to sink because of huge waves at around 12 noon on Monday near Batasan Island, a barangay of Tubigon town. With reports from Fernan Gianan and Mar Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Miko Morelos in Manila; Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas; and Agence France-Presse