General Trias police chief, 2 others sacked in probe on curfew violator’s death

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File photo from General Trias Police's Facebook page

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 7) — The chief of police of General Trias City in Cavite has been relieved from his post after two curfew violators testified that they were indeed made to do physical exercises, a claim that could back the case against policemen over the death of Darren Manaog Peñaredondo.

General Trias Police Chief Lt. Col. Marlo Solero earlier denied that his men physically punished Peñaredondo or any other quarantine violator.

In a statement on Wednesday, Philippine National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana cited sworn affidavits of two individuals who said they were asked to do knee bender exercises by two General Trias policemen who were earlier sacked pending investigation.

The two cops, Police Corporals Jerome Vibar and Kenneth Mercene, are accused of requiring Peñaredondo and seven other violators of quarantine rules to do the strenuous exercises, Usana said.

“The COP (Chief of Police), who made a statement of denial earlier, and the two cops are now placed under the direct the supervision and control of the PD (Provincial Director) who went straight to General Trias to validate for himself from vital witnesses what actually happened during that fateful night that may probably be one of the preceding causes of the death of Mr. Darren Peñaredondo,” Usana said.

Peñaredondo's family said he was apprehended after going out on April 1 to buy water during curfew hours in Cavite, one of the provinces under enhanced community quarantine due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. A strict 6 pm to 5 am curfew is enforced in areas under ECQ.

The victim's cousin, Adrian Luceña, said Peñaredondo and other quarantine violators were asked to do 100 "pumping exercises" similar to push-ups or squats. Because they failed to do it simultaneously, they ended up doing a total of 300 pumping exercises. He said his cousin — who had a heart condition — returned home the following day, barely able to walk. He reportedly collapsed and died eventually despite several attempts to revive him.

The Cavite Provincial Police Office is now investigating the incident.