MANILA, Philippines — Excessive punishments for violators of quarantine rules represent an “overreach” on quarantine rules, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Wednesday, as it raised concern over the death of a man who allegedly performed a strenuous exercise routine as punishment for violating curfew.
“Excessive punishments and fines which are punitive in nature and disproportionate with the violation represent an overreach of the enforcement of quarantine rules and regulations,” the CHR said in a statement on the death of 28-year-old Darren Peñaredondo.
According to reports, Peñaredondo only went out to buy mineral water but was apprehended in General Trias, Cavite last Thursday, April 1. He started having seizures on Saturday, April 3 and died in a hospital on the same day.
Reports however said his death certificate showed that he succumbed to a stroke and a heart condition.
Following his death, the CHR said it views quarantine protocols as a human rights measure meant to protect the people’s right to health.
It added that it recognizes the government’s position to restrict movement for the sake of public health and safety and that everyone’s cooperation is crucial in curbing the COVID-19 spread.
“However, we stress that quarantine measures are being implemented as a public health measure and not as a peace and order solution—this is the rationale as previously espoused by the Chief Executive himself when he stated that the quarantine is not tantamount to martial law,” the CHR said.
“CHR is thus concerned about the treatment and death of Darren Peñaredondo who was apprehended while he was said to be on his way to buy water and was allegedly made to do 300 rounds of a pumping exercise akin to squats,” it added.
The CHR said it echoes the statement of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in recommending local government units to impose community service for quarantine violators as an alternative to harsh physical exercises and fines.
It added that harsh physical sanctions and fines “only add hardships already being felt by members of the poor and vulnerable sectors.”
“The Commission condoles with the family of Peñaredondo and shall reach out to the family in the process of our independent investigation of the incident,” the commission said.
Lt. Col. Marlo Solero, General Trias police chief, earlier said his unit has never imposed physical exercise as punishment for violation of health protocols and curfew. He added that barangay officials who brought Peñaredondo home also did not see any indication that he was in pain or was mistreated.
Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations and Joint Task Force Coronavirus Disease Shield commander, had directed the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) police to investigate the incident.
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