ASEAN Beat | Politics | Southeast Asia

Philippine Man Dies After Being Forced to Exercise for Violating COVID-19 Curfew

The incident is the latest in a long list of alleged human rights abuses that have attended one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

Philippine Man Dies After Being Forced to Exercise for Violating COVID-19 Curfew

A street cleaner sweeps in front of closed commercial establishments during a COVID-19 lockdown in Antipolo City, Philippines, May 7, 2020.

Credit: Deposit Photos

A man in the Philippines died after he was forced to do 300 squats as punishment for violating a COVID-19 curfew, according to his family.

The man’s death is the latest in a long list of alleged abuses suffered by detained quarantine violators, which date back to the strict stay-at-home orders of spring 2020 and are continuing as the country institutes tougher lockdown measures in a bid to stave off a recent surge of coronavirus cases.

Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, 28, was apprehended on April 1 by village guards who spotted him on the street buying drinking water past 6 p.m., allegedly in violation of a nightly curfew in the city of General Trias, Cavite.

His partner, Reichelyn Balce, told Rappler that Peñaredondo and another alleged quarantine violator were then brought to a plaza, where “they were told to do pumping exercises 100 times.”

“The enforcers also said that if they were not in sync, they would repeat it,” Balce said, alleging the pair were ultimately forced to do 300 rounds of the squat-like exercise.

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When Peñaredondo came home the next morning around 8 a.m., “it was obvious he was in pain,” she said. He then complained to Balce about the exercise, mentioning he struggled to complete the repetitions and fell “several times.”

On April 2, after struggling to move on his own throughout the day, he began having seizures. His heart stopped and, while he was revived, he died shortly afterward around 10 p.m.

General Trias police chief Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Nillo Solero denied the allegations made by Peñaredondo’s family, claiming his officers give quarantine violators lectures rather than forcing them to exercise.

The city’s mayor, Antonio Ferrer, said on April 5 he had told the police chief to have the incident investigated.

The Philippines on Monday extended an ongoing coronavirus lockdown by another week due to an ongoing surge that is overwhelming hospitals in the Metro Manila capital region and nearby areas such as Cavite.

The country’s lockdowns, heavily enforced by armed police and military officers, have yielded tens of thousands of arrests and has led to confusion over regulations, such as whether porridge is considered an “essential” good.

Alleged quarantine violators have also been harassed, physically abused and, in some cases, killed.

Last spring, Human Rights Watch reported that several detainees had been forced to sit in dog cages under the hot midday son. A man in Mindanao was also killed at a coronavirus checkpoint after allegedly threatening officials with a scythe.

Winston Ragos, a retired military officer who was reportedly suffering from schizophrenia and trauma, was shot dead last April by Quezon City police for allegedly violating quarantine rules.

Other Asian countries have also been tough on violators of coronavirus restrictions. In Vietnam, flight attendant Duong Tan Hao received a two-year suspended jail sentence after a court found that he broke quarantine rules and spread COVID-19 to others.