THE PNP yesterday opened an investigation into the death of a 28-year-old man who was accosted and required to do community work for violating enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines and later died, allegedly due to physical exhaustion.
The investigation was launched as the police chief of General Trias City in Cavite belied allegations that his men required Darren Manaog Peñaredondo and other quarantine violators to do 100 push ups as their punishment.
City police chief Lieutenant Col. Marlo Nillo Solero said Peñaredondo and seven other violators from Barangay Tejero were turned over to his men on Thursday evening for violation of the curfew hour imposed in the NCR Plus bubble. The eight were also caught not wearing face masks and face shields.
Solero said the policemen took pictures of the violators before formally accepting them from the barangay officials. They were made to stay at a holding area where they were given lectures on the need to follow community quarantine protocols, including the wearing of face masks and shields.
The following day when the 5 a.m. curfew was over, Solero said the eight were asked to do community service, specifically picking up trash at the vicinity of the city hall. They were turned over to their barangay’s local leaders around 7:30 a.m. and were subsequently sent home.
“Prior to that (release to barangay officials), we took pictures of them, record them to ensure that they were released in good physical condition,” said Solero, stressing: “We never imposed physical exercise as a form of punishment to the violators. I want to be clear on that, we didn’t impose any physical exercise as a form of punishment… I repeat, they were not asked to do physical exercise.”
Peñaredondo’s cousin, Adrian Lucena, had said that his cousin went out to buy water on Thursday night week when he, along with several others, was caught by barangay officials for violation of the curfew hours.
Lucena claimed Peñaredondo and his companions were turned over to the police who allegedly asked them to do 100 push ups as a punishment for their violation. He said his cousin ended up doing 300 push ups because he couldn’t keep up with the other violators.
He said Peñaredondo later went home. He had seizures on Saturday and later died in the hospital.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said the PNP is taking the word of Solero in belying Lucena’s claims.
“But if there are witnesses to the contrary, the PNP in the region will be there to get their side for the conduct of investigation. The truth must come out,” said Usana.
Usana said investigators will also talk with the seven other violators who were apprehended along with Peñaredondo “to shed light on the case.”
Usana said community service is the “better alternative” punishment that should be given to violators. “Even the chief PNP himself wanted no arrest of ECQ violators, only warnings and fines,” he said.
During the Laging Handa press briefing, Interior undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the DILG has ordered the PNP to investigate the incident.
He said the order was given to Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, the PNP’s deputy chief for administration who is also the commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield which is playing the lead role in enforcing quarantine rules.
Malaya said Binag has already formed a team to look into the matter.