One man’s family says he died after he was forced to squat as punishment for violating curfew.
Local authorities in the Philippines reportedly detained the 28-year-old while he was buying water.
Human rights defenders have criticized other punishments for violators of COVID-19 rules in the country.
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A man in the Philippines is said to have died after being forced to do 300 squat exercises as punishment for violating the country’s strict COVID-19 curfew rules.
Darren Manaog Penaredondo, 28, was buying water at a local store in Cavite province, south of Manila, last Thursday when local authorities arrested him for violating the 6 p.m. curfew.
A relative, Adrián Lucena, said on Facebook that Penaredondo and others caught breaking the curfew had been forced to do 100 squat 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 entire series. Lucena said Penaredondo and the others ended up doing 300 reps.
The man’s girlfriend, Reichelyn Balce, told local news outlet Rappler that Penaredondo had been in immense pain when she returned Friday morning.
“When he came back around 8 am, he was being assisted by another curfew violator,” he said. “I asked him if he had been beaten up, but he just smiled. It was obvious that it hurt a lot.”
Balce added that Penaredondo had trouble walking and was reduced to crawling on the floor while his knees and thighs ached. Later that day, he began to convulse and have seizures.
“His face turned purple and his heart stopped beating,” Balce said in the middle.
A local official, Rodolfo Cruz Jr., confirmed in a telephone interview with Rappler that Penaredondo was detained by town guards and transferred to the police on Thursday. However, Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Nillo Solero, the chief of police for the city of General Trias, denied the family’s allegations and told Rappler that “there was no such punishment.”
“Instead, we hold conferences,” Solero told Rappler.
Mayor Antonio Ferrer of General Trias said Monday in a Facebook post that the case was under investigation and that he had been in contact with the grieving family.
“We immediately ordered our police chief to conduct a fair investigation into the incident and the alleged torture,” Ferrer said. “I hope we can have immediate clarity on the events and give the family peace of mind.”
Human rights defenders have identified numerous reports of abuses in the Philippines related to violators of the COVID rules.
A Human Rights Watch report cited cases in which police had incarcerated people in dog cages and forced other COVID-19 curfew violators to sit in the scorching midday sun for hours. In one case, a Manila man died after trying to avoid a COVID-19 checkpoint.
During a televised speech Thursday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned citizens not to defy the closure rules.
“I will not hesitate. My orders are for the police and the army, as well as for the village officials, if there is a problem or on occasions when there is violence and their lives are in danger, shoot them,” he said.
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