Opinion

Deadly punishment

Deadly punishment

Darren Manaog Peñaredondo went out of his house in General Trias, Cavite on April 1, past the 6 p.m. curfew, to buy drinking water. Two days later he suffered seizures and died.

What happened? His bereaved loved ones said Peñaredondo, 28, was apprehended by barangay watchmen or tanods in Tejero, who turned him over to the local police. Peñaredondo was reportedly forced together with other violators to do 100 pumping exercises similar to squats in the square across the city hall. They were reportedly warned that if the pumping was not synchronized, they would have to repeat the punishment. Peñaredondo was forced to do a total of 300, according to a cousin.

Even young men, however, may not be fit for such strenuous activities. In the past, some overweight police officers died doing push-ups that they were forced to carry out in ill-advised slimming programs. Peñaredondo was brought home only the next day and was crawling on all fours because of body aches, according to his partner. Hours later, on Black Saturday, he began convulsing and died.

Lt. Col. Marlo Nillo Solero, General Trias police chief, denied that pumping exercises are used to punish quarantine violators in the city. Solero claimed violators are merely subjected to lectures. Peñaredondo, however, could not have suffered in that way merely by listening to lectures.

Even before the tragedy that befell him, calls were already being aired to standardize penalties for violators, with emphasis on community service rather than physical punishment. As Peñaredondo has shown, not everyone can handle physical fitness activities. This pandemic is terrible enough; no one who wants to buy drinking water should pay for it with his life.

While there is an urgent need to improve adherence to COVID health protocols and quarantine restrictions amid a continuing surge in infections, heavy-handed enforcement merely worsens the sufferings endured by people in this public health crisis. Someone must be held accountable for the death of Darren Manaog Peñaredondo.