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USA TODAY

Philippine authorities are investigating the death of a 28-year-old man who was forced to perform nearly 300 squat exercises after officials said he violated local curfew rules last week.

Darren Manaog Penarendondo, 28, was detained by village guards on April 1 in the town of General Triass, south of Manila, while buying water after 6 p.m. The curfew lasts from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Reichelin Bals said her husband was ordered to do the exercises with others. Her husband had heart disease and could barely walk when he returned the next day, she said.

“He said they were forced to do pumping exercises for 100 reps. If they are not in sync, they have to start over,” she told AFP.

Adrian Lucena, Penareando’s cousin, posted on social media that Pe├▒arendondo “had a convulsion, but we were able to revive him at home” before he was rushed to the hospital and died hours later.

National Police spokesman Ildebrandi Usana said the city police chief and two officers had been removed pending an investigation into the incident.

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“This is an exercise to bend the knee,” Usana told AFP. “It’s painful. If that’s the requirement, you’ll really drop out, especially if you’re not used to it. Even the cops themselves are having a hard time.”

Police are punishing thousands of people for violating the curfew imposed last week on Metro Manila and four provinces bordering the capital’s region to curb growing infections. More than 24 million people in greater Manila remain under severe blockade, among the longest in the world, as a sharp jump hampers the country’s healthcare system.

The Philippines has confirmed more than 828,000 cases and is struggling with a positivity rate of almost 25%. More than 14,000 deaths have been reported.

Human rights groups have previously expressed concern about excessive punishment for people caught in violation of COVID-19 restrictions. Justice Minister Menardo Guevara said on Monday that local officials should consider using community service to punish people who break lock rules instead of imprisoning or fining them, Manila Standard reported.

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