PNP probes death of curfew violator in Cavite
The Philippine National Police has tapped its investigators in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region to look into claims that a curfew violator in Cavite province died after he was asked to do a strenuous exercise routine by local policemen.
Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, the PNP deputy chief for operations and Joint Task Force Coronavirus Disease (COVID) Shield commander, directed a team in the Calabarzon police office to investigate the incident despite denials by the General Trias City police of having inflicted physical punishment on violators of the strict lockdown.
Binag was referring to the incident involving 28-year-old Darren Peñaredondo (identified in social media posts as Darren Manaog), who died two days after he and seven other lockdown ordinance violators in General Trias were allegedly asked to do pumping exercises, with repetitions reaching several hundreds, by policemen.
Lt. Col. Marlo Solero, General Trias police chief, maintained on Tuesday that his unit had never imposed physical exercise as punishment for nonobservance of health protocols and curfew violation.
In an interview over radio station dzBB, Solero said, “We never compelled (Peñaredondo) to do any physical exercise.” He said barangay officials who brought Peñaredondo home did not see any indication that he was in pain or was mistreated.
Information shared by Peñaredondo’s family to the rights group Karapatan said he was on his way to buy water when accosted by barangay officials.
Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya of the Department of Interior and Local Government confirmed that an investigation was ongoing.
“I wish to assure the public that if it would turn out that the police committed violations in this incident in Cavite, we will hold them accountable and file administrative and criminal cases against those shown in the investigation to be involved in violating the law,” Malaya said at the Laging Handa briefing.
Solero said Peñaredondo was among eight men rounded up on April 1 by Barangay Tejero officials for violating the 6 p.m. curfew as well as for failing to wear masks and face shields. They were turned over to the city police station. According to Solero, before violators are released to the custody of village officials, their pictures are taken and logged “to ensure that they were released in good physical condition.”
Malaya said the local government of General Trias would also look into possible lapses on the part of barangay officials.
General Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer, in a Facebook post, said the local government had been implementing health and safety protocols to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases in the city but stressed that physical punishment was never used against violators.
Ferrer said he had reached out to Peñaredondo’s family to offer assistance.
Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, the PNP spokesperson, said on Tuesday that the organization “will take (Solero’s) word” in denying the imposition of physical exercise on lockdown violators.
—WITH A REPORT FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.