A Philippine man died on Saturday after allegedly being forced to perform 300 squats by local village guards in the province of Cavite for leaving his house past curfew during a coronavirus lockdown.
Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, 28, died on April 3 after local quarantine enforcers known as barangay tanod or “village guards” detained him in Barangay Tejero, a village near Cavite’s General Trias City, on April 1 for leaving his home to purchase drinking water after 6:00 p.m. The unauthorized outing violated Cavite province’s current curfew mandated by Manila on March 28 as part of a regional coronavirus lockdown.
The village guards allegedly ordered Peñaredondo to perform 300 squats as a form of punishment for his quarantine violation. Peñaredondo returned home to his girlfriend on the morning of April 2 after the guards released him from detention and immediately complained to her of intense physical pain.
“He told me that they were brought to the Plaza Malabon in front of the municipal hall. And then, they were told to do pumping exercises [squats] 100 times. The enforcers also said that if they were not in sync, they would repeat it. He also told me he stumbled while doing the exercise,” Peñaredondo’s girlfriend, Reichelyn Balce, told Philippine news site Rappler on April 5.
“Then when he came home on Friday [April 2], around 8:00 am, he was assisted by his fellow quarantine violator who was arrested with him in the mobile [detention center]. I asked if he was beaten up, he just smiled but it was obvious he was in pain,” she said.
“That whole day, he struggled to walk, he was just crawling on the floor just to get up. But I did not take that seriously because he said his knees and thighs were aching, as was his body,” Balce said. “When he asked for help when he was going to pee, he started to have seizures. He convulsed and his face turned violet. His heart stopped beating. I asked our neighbors to give him CPR, afterwards his heartbeat returned.”
Though he was momentarily revived through CPR, Peñaredondo regained consciousness for just a brief period before ultimately passing away on April 3.
The chairman of Barangay Tejero, Rodolfo Cruz Jr., confirmed to Rappler in a telephone interview that village guards detained Peñaredondo on April 1 and transferred him into the custody of General Trias City police that same night.
General Trias Police Chief Marlo Nillo Solero has denied Balce’s allegations that Peñaredondo was forced to perform 300 squats, saying his police department does not implement such a punishment for quarantine violators.
“As to the claims of pumping, we don’t give such punishment. Instead, we conduct lectures,” Solero told Rappler on April 5.
General Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer said on April 5 he had ordered the General Trias Police to launch a formal investigation into Peñaredondo’s case.
The Philippine government placed Metro Manila and four outlying provinces, including Cavite, under lockdown on March 29 due to a surging number of new coronavirus cases in the region, home to 25 million people. The government on April 5 extended the lockdown for an additional week.