MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy elite officer who led a major operation against the Maute Group in February 2016 received the second highest combat award on Wednesday, December 21, during the 81st anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Lieutenant Junior Grade Reginald Balidoc, 27, of the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Star (DCS) for leading troops in an encounter against an estimated 50 members of the local terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
The encounter with the Maute Group in February resulted in the successful capture of the group's camp in Lanao del Sur. The military said the firefight that Balidoc led in Ragayan in Butig town resulted in heavy casualties on the part of the enemy.
President Rordigo Duterte led the awarding ceremony.
Balidoc's citation reads:
For acts of conspicuous courage and gallantry in the face of an armed enemy during an encounter against more or less 50 Foreign and Local Terrorist Organization members under Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute at the Ragayan, Butig, Lanao del Sur that inflicted heavy casualties to the enemy thereby showcasing extreme stability under fire and keeping up with the finest traditions of Filipino soldiery.
He is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2011.
Balidoc received the award in the presence of the living recipients of the Medal of Valor award, the highest combat award, and the dependents of the deceased awardees.
The Medal of Valor was last awarded in 2014 to the late Private First Class Ian Pacquit. (WATCH: Soldier killed in Zambo given highest military honor)
On Wednesday, Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año also announced the increase in the benefits of the Medal of Valor awardees.