Philippine police probe death of curfew violator forced to do squats

Manila (AFP) –


Philippine police said Wednesday they are investigating the death of a coronavirus lockdown violator who was forced to do a hundred squat-like exercises as a penalty for breaking curfew.

Police have punished more than 10,000 people for breaching a 6:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew imposed on Metro Manila and four provinces bordering the national capital region last week to curb soaring infections.

Darren Penaredondo, 28, was detained Thursday night after going out to buy water in General Trias city, south of the capital, his wife told AFP.

He was taken along with other curfew breakers to a police station and made to do the gruelling workout, national police spokesman Ildebrandi Usana said, citing two witness accounts.

"They were made to exercise 100 times. It's a knee-bender exercise," Usana explained to AFP.

"It's painful. If that's the requirement, you will really pass out especially if you're not used to it. Even policemen themselves find it difficult."

Reichelyn Balce said her husband, who had a heart condition, could barely walk when he got home on Friday and was "in a lot of pain".

The next day he had a "convulsion" and died hours later.

"He said they were made to do pumping exercises for 100 reps. If they're not in sync, they have to start over," Balce told AFP.

Usana said the city's police chief and two officers have been removed from their posts pending the results of an investigation into the incident.

As of Tuesday police had fined nearly 10,000 people and ordered around a thousand to do community service or other activities for breaking curfew, official data show.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday local officials should consider using community service to punish people breaking lockdown rules, rather than jailing or fining them.

Rights groups have previously raised concerns about excessive punishments for people caught breaching Covid-19 restrictions.

During last year's monthslong lockdown, police and officials held curfew violators in dog cages and forced them to sit in the midday sun as punishment, Human Rights Watch said.