28-year-old Darren Manaog Peñaredondo was out buying drinking water in the city of General Trias, Cavite when he was apprehended by police. Although he wasn’t committing a dangerous crime, Peñaredondo broke the province’s strict 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. COVID-19 curfew.
His partner Reichelyn Balce told media outlets Peñaredondo and other violators were forced to perform “pumping” exercises, similar to squats, as punishment for violating the regulations. The violators had to complete 100 pumping squats in sync before they were able to return home.
“They were told to do pumping exercises 100 times,” she explained. “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.”
After completing nearly 300 pumping squats, Peñaredondo went home with the help of other violators. Balce claimed he was clearly in pain and struggled to walk while he was at home.
“That whole day, he struggled to walk, he was just crawling on the floor just to get up,” she said. “But I did not take that seriously because he said his knees and thighs were aching, as was his body.”
That evening, Peñaredondo suffered a seizure. Although he was revived for a brief moment, he ended up passing away that night. Those close to Darren believe the seizure was sparked by the 12+ hours of exercise he was forced to perform after violating the curfew. This prompted General Trias mayor Anthony Ferrer to announce he has ordered an investigation into the night’s activities and Peñaredondo’s death.
“In connection with the unexpected passing of Mr. Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, we immediately ordered the Chief of our police to conduct a fair investigation about the incident of arrest and the seemingly torturing him,” Ferrer said in a statement. “Let’s hope that we have immediate clarity on the events and give peace of mind and will to the Peñaredondo family.”
The city’s police chief, Lt. Col. Marlo Nillo Solero, denied the exercise played a role in Peñaredondo’s death. He also claimed “pumping” is not a punishment they use against curfew violators.
“As to the claims of pumping, we don’t give such punishment,” Solero said. “Instead, we conduct lectures.”
Close to 800,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Philippines, resulting in 13,425 deaths.