Lawmakers are calling for a House inquiry on the death of Darren Peñaredondo after reportedly being punished by police for violating quarantine protocols in General Trias City, Cavite, early this month.
Bayan Muna Party-list Representatives Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite filed on April 7 House Resolution No. 1697, which calls on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Human Rights to investigate the viral death of Peñaredondo in aid of legislation.
A video shared by his partner showed Peñaredondo barely able to walk, instead using his hands to move, after being forced by General Trias police to do repeated pumping exercises for supposedly violating the curfew amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) being enforced in Cavite.
Peñaredondo later died due to a stroke.
“Complaints against police abuse over quarantine violations are not new. During the first few months of lockdown in March of last year, rights groups have raised concerns over unjust punishment used by police against quarantine violators,” Zarate, Cullamat and Gaite said in the resolution, echoing calls for investigation into the incident due to possible violations of the Anti-Torture Law.
The progressive lawmakers said: “It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people, to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations committed against them, especially in this time of crisis.”
“Laws and rules should serve the interest of our people, and should not be weaponized to suppress their rights and oppress them,” they stressed.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday disclosed that the police chief of General Trias and two other policemen have been relieved from their posts following Peñaredondo’s death.
The policemen denied that they ordered the harsh exercises, but at least two other arrested individuals attested to the claim that curfew violators were being subjected to strenous physical punishments, said the PNP.
A year since the imposition of quarantine protocols in the country, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said last Monday that he has recommended to the national task force handling the pandemic that persons apprehended for violating the ECQ should be penalized only by doing community service, not fine or imprisonment.