Man is said to have died after being forced to do 300 squats for breaking COVID-19 curfew

Cheryl Teh
·4 min read
philippines covid
The Philippines government has imposed strict community quarantine across the country and has mobilized the police to enforce these measures. Ryan Eduard Benaid/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • A man's family says he died after being made to do squats as a penalty for breaking curfew.

  • The 28-year-old was said to be stopped by local authorities in the Philippines while buying water.

  • Human-rights advocates have criticized other punishments for COVID-19 rule-breakers in the country.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A man in the Philippines is said to have died after being forced to do 300 squat-like exercises as a punishment for breaking the country's strict COVID-19 curfew rules.

Darren Manaog Penaredondo, 28, was out buying water at a local store in the Cavite province, south of Manila, last Thursday when he was stopped by local authorities for violating the 6 p.m. curfew.

A relative, Adrian Lucena, said on Facebook that Penaredondo and others caught breaking curfew had been forced to do 100 squat-like exercises as punishment.

According to Lucena, the group was told to do the squats in sync - but if one of them was out of sync, the group would have to repeat the whole set. Lucena said Penaredondo and the others ended up doing 300 reps.

The man's live-in girlfriend, Reichelyn Balce, told the local media outlet Rappler that Penaredondo had been in immense pain when he returned Friday morning.

"When he came back around 8 a.m., he was being assisted by another curfew violator," she said. "I asked if he was beaten up, but he just smiled. It was obvious that he was in a lot of pain."

Balce told news outlet ABS-CBN that Penaredondo had broken curfew to buy water, but was also looking for soft drinks.

Balce added that Penaredondo struggled to walk and was reduced to crawling on the floor as his knees and thighs ached. Later that day, he started convulsing and having seizures.

"His face turned violet, and his heart stopped beating," Balce told the outlet.

A local official, Rodolfo Cruz Jr., confirmed in a phone interview with Rappler that Penaredondo was detained by village guards and transferred to the police on Thursday. Lt. Col. Marlo Nillo Solero, the police chief in the city of General Trias, denied the family's allegations, however, telling Rappler there was "no such punishment."

"Instead, we conduct lectures," Solero told Rappler.

Mayor Antonio Ferrer of General Trias said Monday in a Facebook post that the case was being investigated and that he'd been in touch with the grieving family.

"We immediately ordered the chief of our police to conduct a fair investigation about the incident and the supposed torture," Ferrer said. "I hope we can have immediate clarity on the events and give peace of mind to the family."

ABS-CBN also reported that the Philippine National Police have since denied as of Wednesday that any curfew violators were forced to perform physical exercise as punishment.

Philippine police spokesman Ildebrandi Usana told ABS-CBN that the authorities "took the police chief's word for it."

"But if there are witnesses to the contrary, the PNP in the region will be there to get their side of the story to conduct an investigation," said Usana.

Balce told ABS-CBN that Penaredondo's family might file charges against the local authorities, and would make a decision after his funeral.

Human-rights advocates have identified numerous reports of abuse in the Philippines concerning COVID rule-breakers.

A report from Human Rights Watch cited instances in which the police had imprisoned people in dog cages and forced other COVID-19 curfew violators to sit under the blazing midday sun for hours. In one case, a Manila man was killed after he attempted to avoid a COVID-19 checkpoint.

During a televised address on Thursday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned citizens not to defy lockdown rules.

"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," he said.

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