Most of those who died were aboard two ferries that flipped over off Guimaras and Iloilo provinces on Saturday, Joem Javier, a regional police spokesperson said.
A third ferry that was not carrying any passengers also capsized in the Iloilo Strait — but its four crewmen survived, according to Javier.
Five-five other passengers and crew members aboard the ferries were rescued. Survivors recounted how the sky suddenly turned dark midway through their trip, followed by strong winds and rain that battered their ferries.
Roughly three hours after two other ferries overturned almost at the same time at noon in bad weather, a third ferry was allowed to set sail — baffling authorities.
Forecasters have warned of heavy monsoon rains, thunderstorms and rain-triggered landslides amid a tropical depression more than 620 miles off the country's eastern coast.
About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year, making the archipelago that lies on the Pacific typhoon and earthquake belt one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.