A Filipino man has died after allegedly being forced to do 300 squat thrusts by police as punishment for breaking Covid rules in his home country.
Darren Manaog Penaredondo, 28, died in General Trias city, on the outskirts of the capital Manila, on April 3 – two days after he was caught by police buying a bottle of water from a local shop after the 6pm curfew.
Partner Reichelyn Balce said he and a group of other curfew-breakers were forced to do 100 squat thrusts – but had to repeat the exercise if they failed to do it in unison.
By the time Mr Penaredondo arrived home the following morning, Ms Blace said he had performed 300 of the exercises and was barely able to walk.
‘When he came home on Friday, around 8am, he was assisted by a fellow quarantine violator who was arrested with him,’ Ms Balce told local news site Rappler.
‘I asked if he was beaten up. He just smiled but it was obvious he was in pain.’
Ms Blace said he was unable to stand for the rest of the day, and was crawling across the floor because his legs and knees hurt so much.
Then, while trying to use the bathroom, Mr Penaredondo began suffering seizures and had to be revived by a neighbour using CPR.
He regained consciousness for a short time afterwards, but eventually passed away around 10pm without ever reaching hospital.
Cousin Adrian Lucena announced the death on Facebook, writing: ‘We love you so much. We will not allow those responsible to escape justice.
‘Sorry I can’t go home because of these times. I love you so much.’
Rodolfo Cruz Jr, head of local village guard units, confirmed that Mr Penaredondo was arrested for breaching curfew on the night of April 1 – but said he was handed over to municipal police shortly afterwards.
Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Solero, head of the local police force, denied that squats are used as a punishment for curfew violators and said officers are supposed to give lectures to rule-breakers.
If police are found to have ordered Mr Penaredondo to do squats then it will not be tolerated, he added.
Mayor Ony Ferrer released a statement on Facebook as news of the death spread, pledging to carry out a full investigation.
‘We want to know what really happened for the family’s sake,’ he said.
He added that he had been in contact with Mr Penaredondo’s family to offer his condolences.
It comes as Rodrigo Duterte extended a lockdown by another week after an alarming spike in coronavirus infections in the Philippines.
Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, back under lockdown last week as daily infections breached the 10,000-mark.
The president has increasingly faced criticisms of mishandling the pandemic and said this week that medical stuff who lost their lives from the virus were ‘lucky’ to die for their country.
Medics have complained of a lack of protective equipment for those on the front lines of the pandemic.
The Philippines, the third country after China and Italy to order home quarantine for a large part of its population of 107 million had until recently reported fewer cases than expected, with many deaths.
Authorities had attributed that to a lack of testing kits and lab capacity.
Duterte has put retired generals among his cabinet in charge of the task force battling the crisis, saying its management requires military-style discipline.