A Filipino-American born in Western Samar, Ross is the brother of Jack, a member of the April 6 Liberation Movement and the Light-a-Fire Movement during the Marcos regime.[1] Jack was dispatched to the Philippines to conduct a destabilization plot against Marcos, with a clear-cut order not to kill or involve civilians. He was considered a terrorist when he sought to fight for the freedom of the Philippines.[2]

In September of 1980, Jack checked into the YMCA hostel in Manila and initiated his plan. To his surprise, the bomb he was preparing suddenly exploded in his hotel room, where he was almost killed, while his brother, Ross, was injured from the blast.[3] Following the incident, Ross and Jack were still undergoing treatment at a hospital when the Military Intelligence Service Group (MISG) arbitrarily arrested them and their brother, Richard.[4]

After being arrested, Ross was brought to a camp in Quezon City, where he was detained and subjected to physical and mental abuse. The soldiers kept him informed regarding his brother Jack's critical condition as he also suffered from serious injuries due to the explosion. However, he was prohibited from visiting him, and was not allowed to receive calls or visits from his relatives either. The soldiers also kept hinting to him that his wife was having affairs with the other military guards who were under the direct command of a certain Coronel Cancio.[5]

Following Ross’ two week detainment, he was transferred to Camp Crame's Military Intelligence Group (MIG) which was personally supervised and under the direct command of the aforementioned Coronel Cancio. Upon his arrival, Ross was directly assigned to a cramped and dark cell, together with twelve other detainees. He was asked to sign a document, but refused to do so. He was then blindfolded and taken to be the subject of a deadly "Russian Roulette" game. The tactic wasn’t enough to make him sign the document. He was brought back to his cell and was once again asked to sign the document. Still refusing to sign, the soldiers began to use different methods of physical torture on him.[6]

Ross went through rounds of horrendous torture for almost three weeks. Eventually, he was transferred to the headquarters of the Western Police District located at UN Avenue in Manila. While he was detained, a state agent persistently encouraged him to escape from the station. But after sensing that it was a trap, he chose to stay put. After repeatedly refusing to follow their orders, the soldiers stripped Ross naked, tied his hands and feet to a bench, and was forced to lie flat on his back. The soldiers performed the water torture on Ross, as they poured water on his nose and mouth. Once he was weak, one of the soldiers connected a contraption made of a wire attached to a battery onto his genitals. This method of torture subjected Ross to unimaginable and excruciating pain. After having endured the torture and detention for almost ten months, Ross was finally released.[7]

Thirty-four years after the incident, Ross personally applied for and filed a claim for reparation and recognition before the Board for Torture and Arbitrary Detention.[8] In hopes of achieving the justice he deserved, he submitted several documents to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) to support his claim and to have his case resolved. In June of 2017 in Quezon City, he was conclusively presumed to be a human rights violations victim under Sec. 17 of Republic Act 10368, also representing as one of the victims in the Hawaii case entitled "Human Rights Litigation against the Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos" under the ambit of detention and torture.[9]

Just like the rest of the Filipino citizens and victims who were agonized and had grievously suffered from the Marcos regime, Ross was one of the helpless Filipinos who bore misery and had his rights been ghastly violated. He was arbitrarily detained, repeatedly abused, and brutally tortured without any legal grounds. And although only a few Filipinos remember his story, this incident left a significant mark on his life and will forever remain as a traumatic and painful memory for him and his family.

May we always be reminded of the victims' stories and the horrors that the Filipino people had to endure during this significant point in time. May we not allow their valuable lives to only be buried under the statistics and, by due remembrance, honor their lives and sacrifices. With these experiences, may we, as a society, continue to learn and defend the human rights and democratic institutions in our motherland.

[1] Manapat, Kat. "#EDSA29: A Freedom Fighter Remembers." RAPPLER. February 25, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2022.

[2] “Application for Reparation and/or Recognition”.

[3] Vicente Tañedo and George Brooks, "Urban terror group busted," (11 September 1980); accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission; G.R. No. L-59524, 1985,

[4] “Resolution,” (Case No. 2014-09-00497; Quezon City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission; G.R. No. L-59524, 1985,

[5] "Affidavit," (Case No. 2014-09-00497; South Cotabato: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission.

[6] “Resolution,” 1.

[7] Ibid., 2.

[8] “Resolution,” 1.

[9] Ibid., 3.