Philippine man dies after being forced to perform hundreds of squats for breaking COVID-19 curfew

Philippine authorities are investigating the death of a 28-year-old man forced to perform nearly 300 squat exercises after officials say he broke local COVID-19 curfew rules last week.

Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, 28, was apprehended by village watchmen on April 1 in General Trias City, south of Manila, while he was buying water after 6 p.m. The curfew lasts from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Reichelyn Balce said her husband was ordered to perform the exercises with others. Her husband had a heart condition and could barely walk when he got home the next day, she said.

“He said they were made to do pumping exercises for 100 reps. If they’re not in sync, they have to start over,” she told AFP.

Adrian Lucena, Peñaredondo’s cousin, posted on social media that Peñaredondo “had a convulsion, but we were able to revive him at home” before he was rushed to the hospital and died hours later.

National police spokesman Ildebrandi Usana said the city’s police chief and two officers have been removed from their posts pending investigation into the incident.

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“It’s a knee-bender exercise,” Usana told 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.”

Police have punished thousands of people for breaching curfew imposed last week on Metro Manila and four provinces bordering the national capital region to curb soaring infections. More than 24 million people in greater Manila remain under strict lockdown, among the longest in the world, as a severe surge imperils the country’s healthcare system.

The Philippines has confirmed more than 828,000 cases and is struggling with a positivity rate of almost 25%. More than 14,000 deaths have been reported.

Rights groups have previously raised concerns about excessive punishments for people caught breaching COVID-19 restrictions. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday that local officials should consider using community service to punish people breaking lockdown rules, rather than jailing or fining them, the Manila Standard reported.

A soldier stands guard as residents out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic queue for ($20) cash aid on April 7,2021 in Manila, Philippines.

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