Typhoon Quinta death toll reaches 9, several injured and missing; tropical depression could  become typhoon by weekend

THE DEATH toll from typhoon Quinta (international name: Molave) has increased to nine people, while two are still missing and at least six injured, according to the October 28 report from the disaster management council. The number of affected families has also gone up to almost 50,000 composed of over 209,000 people in the regions of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas. There were still more than 14,500 families displaced from their homes as of Wednesday, mostly staying in evacuation centers. Agricultural damage, meanwhile, has increased to P705.87 million from the initial estimate of P401.73 million, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. In a bulletin on Wednesday, the DA said losses from Quinta are now at 33,545 metric tons and 25,483 farmers and fisherfolk affected.

Meanwhile, the tropical depression east of Luzon could intensify into a severe tropical storm by Friday morning when it enters the Philippine area. Weather bureau PAGASA’s forecast indicates it could reach typhoon category before landfall on Saturday morning, at which time the center of the storm will be 600 kilometers east of Daet, Camariñes Norte. The typhoon, which will be named Rolly,  is likely to brings rains throughout Luzon and the Visayas. — with a report from Revin Mikhael D. Ochave 

Red tide warning raised in Dumanquilas Bay

THE BUREAU of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has warned consumers against eating shellfish harvested from Dumanquilas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur after it tested positive for red tide contamination. In its 24th shellfish bulletin, BFAR said Dumanquilas Bay joins other red-tide areas such as Bataan, particularly the areas of Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Hermosa, Orani, Abucay, and Samal; Honda and Puerto Princesa bays and Inner Malampaya Sound in Palawan; Milagros in Masbate; Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol; and Tambobo Bay in Negros Oriental. Other areas that are affected by red tide include Daram Island, Zumarraga, Irong-irong, San Pedro, Maqueda, and Villareal Bays in Western Samar; Cancabato Bay and Carigara Bay in Leyte; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay in Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang harvested from these areas are not safe for human consumption. Other marine species, however, can be eaten with proper handling. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Implementation of mandatory cashless toll collection moved to Dec. 1

THE TRANSPORTATION department said on Wednesday it is postponing the start of the mandatory implementation of cashless payments on all toll roads  to Dec. 1 from Nov. 2. The delay is in consideration of motorists who have yet to acquire radio-frequency identification (RFID) stickers on their vehicles, the department said in a statement. However, the agency said there will be no further extensions. Toll Regulatory Board (TRB)  Executive Director Abraham P. Sales said the deferment will  “give motorists, especially infrequent toll road users, more time to comply with the department order, and to prevent the long queues currently being experienced at toll roads in the rush to get the RFID stickers.” Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade signed a department order on Aug. 13 directing all concerned agencies to “formulate new processes and procedures within three months to ensure the smooth implementation of the new policy.” Under the order, the TRB was directed to come up with rules and regulations requiring concessionaires and operators of toll expressways to transition to an electronic toll collection system. The contactless payment policy will be implemented in South Luzon Expressway, Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway, North Luzon Expressway, South Metro Manila Skyway, Southern Tagalog Arterial Road Tollway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Property owner readying legal action vs Davao-Samal bridge project

LEGAL ACTION against the Davao-Samal bridge project is “in the works,” according to the lawyer of the Rodriguez family, owner of the affected properties at the Samal landing site. “As a last recourse, we will eventually file the petition in court,” lawyer Ramon Edison C. Batacan said in a text message. The Rodriguez family, owner of Paradise Island and Beach Resort and the adjacent Costa Marina Beach Resort, has requested the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to stick to the original bridge alignment under the study funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. They claim that the new alignment will have adverse environmental impacts. Mr. Batacan said he is now preparing the filing for a Writ of Mandamus, a legal remedy relating to the constitutional right to a healthy and balanced environment. “We are open for talks. But apparently DPWH does not want to talk to the lawyers. It is still pursuing the ECC (environmental compliance certificate),” he said. “DPWH is ignoring all efforts to resolve the issues amicably,” he added. DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain has said the design is final and that it is “based on a long, prudent and factual study.” — Maya M. Padillo