Photo of victim Darren Manaog Penaredondo
By Tracy Cabrera
GENERAL TRIAS CITY, CAVITE — Following the death of an alleged Covid-rule breaker who was punished with physical exercise for violating the curfew, General Trias City mayor Antonio ‘Ony’ Ferrer clarified that while he has ordered the local police to go after violators in his city, “‘torture’ is not part of (their) policy.”
Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, 28, was allegedly collared by hard-line officers after he went out of his residence during curfew hours to buy some water from the local shops. He died, however, after being forced to do 300 squats by armed cops as punishment.
Initial reports disclosed that Peñaredondo collapsed and died after being ‘tortured’ with the strenuous exercise.
Answering queries about the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death, General Trias City police chief Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Solero told reporters that based on Mayor Ferrer’s directive, “there should be no physical punishment for those caught breaking Covid rules.”
Solero quickly added, though, that a thorough investigation is being conducted over Peñaredondo’s unfortunate demise even as he stressed “(he) would not tolerate any officers found to be dishing out their own form of justice.”
One of the victim’s devastated relatives had announced his shocking death on Facebook, claiming their kin and several others who had been found violating the curfew were told to do 100 squat-like exercises and if they failed to co-ordinate them properly, they were made to repeat the set.
The group eventually ended up doing 300 squats in total leaving Mr. Penaredondo in agony, say reports.
Peñaredondo’s live-in companion, Reichelyn Balce, told local news that her partner had struggled to move after returning home in the early hours of Good Friday, April 2.
“That whole day, he struggled to walk, he was just crawling,” Balce described how the victim had suffered in the aftermath. “But I did not take that seriously because he said it’s just a simple body ache.”
Yet on the following day, Peñaredondo suddenly collapsed, stopped breathing, and consequently expired.
The local authorities have now ordered a probe into the tragedy after the mayor described the alleged punishment as “torture.”
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch warned the authorities about reports how Covid rule-breakers were being regularly abused in the country. The group said there were cases where police and local officials had confined people to dog cages and others were forced to sit in the midday sun.
Prior to the unfortunate incident in General Trias City, President Rodrigo Duterte had advised citizens not to defy lockdown rules, warning that “my orders are to the police and military, if there are any trouble, or occasions where there’s violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Ferrer in a statement on the city’s website expressed grief over Peñaredondo’s death, saying it was an unfortunate incident that needs to be investigated thoroughly to give justice to the victim’s family.
The mayor’s statement said: “Ang pamunuan ng Pamahalaang Lungsod ng General Trias kabilang ang inyong lingkod ay nagpapahalaga sa mga ipinatutupad na patakaran pangkalusugan (public health standards) upang maiwasan ang lalong pagdami ng Covid-19 cases sa ating komunidad. Sa pagpapatupad ng nasabing patakaran, kailan man ay hindi naging parte ng ating polisiya ang pananakit o pagpapahirap sa sinomang lalabag dito.
Kaugnay sa hindi inaaasahang pagpanaw ni Ginoong Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, inatasan natin agad ang hepe ng ating kapulisan na magsagawa ng patas na imbestigasyon tungkol sa insidente ng paghuli at sa di-umaano’y pagpapahirap sa kanya.
Tayo po ay personal na nakipag ugnayan sa pamilya ni Ginoong Peñaredondo upang makiramay at tumulong sa kanilang pangangailangan.
Hangad po natin ang agarang pagkakaroon ng kalinawan sa mga pangyayari at mabigyan ng kapayapaan ng isipan at kalooban ang pamilya Peñaredondo.”
(AI/MTVN/With Reports from Rappler)