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Philippine man dies after being forced to hold 300 police rallies for Covid-19

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On April 1, Darren Manaog Pearedondo, 28, left his home in General Trias, a town in Cavite province, which is under blockade due to rising Covid-19 cases, to buy water, his family said. , according to CNN Philippines contributor CNN.

But he was stopped by police and told to do “pumping exercises” 100 times, according to the report. Police made him repeat the exercises, which means he eventually did about 300 repetitions.

“He started convulsing on Saturday, but we were able to resuscitate him at home. Then his body failed, so we resuscitated him again, but he was already comatose,” his family said, according to the report. Pearedondo died at 10 a.m., the family said.

The Philippines has one of the highest reported Covid-19 shipments of any country in Asia – it has recorded more than 819,000 infections and 14,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Last month, cases in the country rose sharply, prompting authorities to order more than 25 million people in blockage – including those in the province of Cavite.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the mayor of the city of General Trias have ordered an investigation into Pearedondo’s death, according to the report.

Philippines orders more than 25 million people in blockade over Easter as Covid-19 issues fly

“All police officers who will be proven to have broken the law will be prosecuted and punished with appropriate (administrative) and criminal penalties,” Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a text message to CNN Philippines.

Pearedondo’s death follows a series of incidents involving brutal police techniques.

In one statement last month, the non-profit organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted reports that officials had locked five youths inside a dog cage for quarantine violations. They also reportedly forced people to sit in the midday sun as punishment for overthrowing a state.

Jose Manuel Diokno, a lawyer and founder of the Free Legal Aid Group (FLAG), said it was not legal to lock people in cages or make people gather 300 times. “The only penalties that can be imposed by law enforcement for any kind of violation are those found in local law and national law, and we have no law that allows people to get into dog cages or be allowed to exercise over periods of time.” he said.

A tough approach to Covid restrictions

The Philippines has taken a tough approach to containing coronavirus.

President Rodrigo Duterte has implemented his traditional strong tactics, saying in April last year that police would shoot to death anyone who violated the limits of the virus. “I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police, the army and the barangay: If they become undisciplined and they fight against you and your life is in danger, shoot them dead,” Duterte said during a speech.
A large number of people have been detained for violating the restrictions in the last 12 months. Between March and August last year, nearly 290,000 people were warned, fined or charged with violating quarantine rules, CNN Philippines reported. Since Duterte blocked the main Philippine island of Luzon on March 16 this year, hundreds of people have been arrested in Manila, HRW said in March.
Police officers inspect motorists at a quarantine checkpoint on March 29, 2021 in Marikina, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Philippine authorities argue harsh approach it is necessary to control the site explosion. But Carlos Conde, a senior researcher at HRW who is based in the Philippines, argues that increased cases show the measures did not work. Instead, he said the decision to arrest people en masse has seen people “packed like sardines” in crowded prisons with no social distance.

The blockade orders had also hurt people who need to leave their homes to work, he said, adding that the measures were “very anti-poor”.

In her Annual report released this week, Amnesty International criticized the Philippines’ approach, noting that “measures taken by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19 led to widespread human rights abuses”.
Last month, Duterte defended himself by using former military officers in the fight against Covid-19, saying, “You should not be a doctor here,” according to a CNN Philippines report. CNN has reached out to the official Philippine Information Agency for comment.

The decline of freedoms

Brutal police methods have been an issue for years in the Philippines. Since Duterte came to power in 2016, thousands have died in the “war on drugs” after the president ordered police to kill anyone they believed was linked to the drug trade.

But activists say the pandemic has further degraded human rights and freedoms.

According to Conde, the main problem it’s the government is treating Covid-19 as a public safety issue – not a health concern. Excessive roles given to the army and police had only increased the prevalence of aggressive police tactics, he said.

“I think the police, the army and the local government, they have been encouraged to commit even more human rights violations during the pandemic,” he said.

A police officer takes alleged photographs of police offenders at a quarantine checkpoint on March 29, 2021 in Marikina, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Diokno, the lawyer, said authorities had “received only one suggestion from their leader”, referring to Duterte.

There have been influences beyond those arrested for quarantining. According to HRW, there was a 50% increase in people killed in the “fight against drugs” from April to July 2020 compared to the previous four-month period.

Diokno said human rights had been “very clearly degraded” because of the pandemic. “Apart from the lives they lost, the first victims of the pandemic were democratic rights and freedoms,” he said.

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