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USA Today

Philippine authorities are investigating the deaths of a 28-year-old who was forced to do nearly 300 squat exercises after officials said he breached local COVID-19 curfew rules last week.

Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, 28, was arrested by village guards on April 1 in General Trias, south of Manila, while he was buying water after 6 p.m.

Reichelyn Balce said her husband was ordered to exercise with others, her husband had heart disease and could barely walk when she got home the next day, she said.

“He said they were made to do 100 pumping exercises. If they don’t match, they have to start over,” she told AFP.

Peñaredondo’s cousin Adrian Lucena posted on social media that Peñaredondo “had seizures, but we can revive him at home” before he was hospitalized and died hours later.

National police spokesman Ildebrandi Usana said the city’s police chief and two officers had been removed from office pending investigation into the incident.

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“It’s a knee-flex exercise,” Usana told AFP. “It’s painful, if that’s the need, you can get through, especially if you’re not used to it. Even the police find it difficult.”

Police have punished thousands of people for violations of the curfew scheduled last week on Metro Manila and the four provinces bordering the nation’s capital to curb a rising infection of more than 24 million people in Manila. It remains under a strict siege, the longest group in the world, as violent currents affect the country’s healthcare system.

The Philippines has more than 828,000 confirmed cases and is battling a positive sentiment rate of nearly 25%. More than 14,000 deaths have been reported.

Rights groups previously raised concerns about excessive sanctions for those found to violate COVID-19 restrictions, Justice Minister Menardo Guevarra said on Monday local officials should consider using community services to punish people. People who break blocking rules instead of jailing or fines them.

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