Rainy Holy Week looms as ‘Agaton’ intensifies

The eastern part of the country is expected to have rains and gusty winds this Holy Week with Tropical Depression Agaton intensifying slightly yesterday as it hovered over Eastern Visayas.

FOR THE FIRST DAY OF HOLY WEEK. Vendors sell palm fronds in front of Quiapo Church in Manila on the eve of Palm Sunday. Norman Cruz

In its 5 p.m. update, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Agaton was last located 130 km east southeast Guiuan town, Eastern Samar, packing maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 50 kph.

Signal No. 1 has been raised over the following areas: Eastern Samar, Dinagat Islands, Siargao, and Bucas Grande Islands.

The slow-moving Agaton, PAGASA said, was slowly moving in a north northwest direction.

It warned of possible flash floods or landslides during moderate to at times heavy rains.


It added that Agaton and an Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) will bring cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms in the Bicol region and the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao.

Cloudy skies with rains will prevail over Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, and Ilocos Norte brought by the northeasterly surface wind flow.

Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will have localized thunderstorms.

The weather bureau is also monitoring a tropical cyclone outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

PAGASA reported a tropical storm, with the international name Malakas, was last spotted more than one thousand kilometers east of Mindanao It packs maximum sustained winds of 74 kph and gustiness of up to 90 kph.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration has been placed under heightened alert for Holy Week in anticipation of the increase in arriving and departing passengers.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said all airports and seaports have been instructed to ensure that they are properly manned, to be able to service the expected rise in travelers.

“Historically, the number of passengers really rises during holy week and other such long breaks. This year as the country re-opens its borders, we expect that the numbers will again rise,” he added.

The government also prevented more than 60 drivers, conductors and other public transport workers from going on their trips this Holy Week after they tested positive for drug use.

The drug tests were conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in major bus, jeepney, tricycle and public utility vehicle (PUV) terminals throughout the country to ensure the safety of travelers in connection with the observance of Lent.

Of the 4,210 transport workers who underwent drug-screening on Friday, 61 were found positive. Most of them tested positive for using shabu and marijuana.

The PDEA also deployed K9 units to airport and seaport terminals in cooperation with the Manila International Airport Authority and Philippine Ports Authority to prevent the transportation of illegal drugs.

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