On Apr. 7, 28-year-old Darren Peñaredondo reportedly started having seizures and eventually lost consciousness. A day after, he suffered a stroke and passed away.
Prior to this, Peñaredondo was apprehended on Apr. 6 by authorities for breaking the curfew. He was allegedly sanctioned to do 300 push-ups along with other curfew violators, and was brought home extremely fatigued. His family claims that this was what triggered his stroke.
Lt. Col. Marlo Solero, the police chief in charge of the precinct where Peñaredondo was taken, has denied that the enforced push-ups took place, saying that the precinct does not impose physical exercise as punishment. The Philippine National Police has stated that they are investigating the case. However, its spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana has also noted that they will take Solero’s word.
This case, like many other cases involving the police, is one of many examples of alleged human rights abuses done to curfew violators. Army veteran Winston Ragos was infamously murdered last year at a quarantine checkpoint.
In 2020, Human Rights Watch pointed this out, saying “Philippine authorities should respect the basic rights of people detained for violating the government’s COVID-19 regulations.” It also cited examples such as the five youths who were locked up in dog cages.
It’s as if the pandemic has given officials free reign to impose whatever sanctions they can think of, from the draconic to the lecherous. Many officials even livestream these punishments, such as the case of the mayor in Pandacaqui, Mexico, Pampanga who forced three queer people to kiss and perform a sexy dance while insinuating that they were sex workers.
Rounding up curfew violators does not make sense. One of the key ways we’re implementing to prevent the spread of the pandemic is by limiting physical contact. Aren’t curfews supposed to enforce that? What then is the point of putting curfew violators together in small spaces as punishment?
It looks like many of the people charged with enforcing curfews and barrier have no idea what they’re doing, too. There’s the viral lugaw instance, for one, in which an official at a checkpoint refused to let a food delivery person go through, despite food items already being cleared as exceptions, because the food he was carrying was “non-essential.” The official has since apologized, but the driver has noted that he has faced harassment after the incident.
The way the government has responded to this health crisis never made sense to me, just another pointless show of machismo politics that has no idea how to deal with a problem without going guns blazing. You can’t shoot a virus, you shoot people.
And then it clicked.
When a government is so hellbent on eliminating people they’ve earmarked as a symbolic virus on society, how else would they respond to the underserved people carrying a literal one?