Philippines: COVID-19 curfew rule-breaker dies after ‘exercise punishment’


A man in the Philippines has died after allegedly being forced by the police to perform an exercise 300 times as a punishment for violating coronavirus quarantine.

Darren Manaog Penaredondo was caught buying drinking water after 6pm, allegedly in violation of the COVID-19 curfew in the city of General Trias, in Cavite province on Thursday, his family said.

Complaining from exhaustion due to the physical punishment, he collapsed the following day and later died.

Cavite province, on the island of Luzon, is currently under strict lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

Marlo Solero, police chief of General Trias City, said there is no physical punishment for those found violating curfew rules, only lectures from officers. He told local media that if officers were found to have enforced the punishment, it would not be tolerated.

A relative of the victim, Adrian Lucena, announced his death on Facebook. He said Mr. Penaredondo and others found violating the curfew were told to do 100 squat-like exercises in sync together.

If they failed to do them at the same time, they would have to repeat the set, he said. The group ended up doing 300 of the exercises.

Mr. Penaredondo came home at 0600 on Friday morning in pain, his brother said. His live-in partner told local news outlet Rappler that he struggled to move throughout Friday.

“That whole day, he struggled to walk, he was just crawling. But I did not take that seriously because he said it’s just a simple body ache,” Reichelyn Balce said.

The following day he collapsed and stopped breathing. Ms. Balce asked the neighbours to help revive him, but he reportedly died not long after.

Ony Ferrer, Mayor of General Trias City, said he had ordered the chief of police to conduct a thorough investigation. He described the alleged punishment as “torture”.

Mr. Ferrer added that he had been in contact with Mr. Penaredondo’s family.

Earlier this month Human Rights Watch warned that rule-breakers in the Philippines were being abused. The rights group said there were cases where police and local officials had confined people to dog cages and others were forced to sit in the midday sun.

During a television address on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte warned citizens not to defy lockdown rules, saying: “I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there’s violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead.” (Source: BBC)