For this outstanding performance of duty, 2nd LT. Herbert Dilag, an Igorot from Kalinga, was awarded the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Valor (MOV).
After suffering from heavy casualties and slowly losing it's ground from the upper hand Abu Sayyaf rebels in their secured bunkers and having bombarded by the enemies mortars and machine gun fires.
Major. Caldeo, the Commander of the First Scout Ranger Battalion, First Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Command, Philippine Army, during the 3 day assault at Hill 898, the biggest Abu Sayyaf Camp in Basilan, Camp Abdurrajak, Punoh Mohaji, Isabela, Basilan ordered the OPLAN LAST OPTION or also known as the SUICIDE MISSION.
Major Caldeo decided to organize the two "Suicide Squads" to execute the final assault. The squads consisting 14 volunteers has an extreme and risky mission, to clear the northeastern bunkers. Anticipating their death, the members of the squads, left their valuables to their supporting comrades to soon be given to their loved ones.
Undaunted by threat posed by the situation and unmindful of their own safety, this Igorot scout ranger rushed-up the 30-meter 80-degree slope and eventually assaulted the heavily fortified enemy defensive position. Then they carried out an intense bunker-to-bunker battle. With cunning stealth, the "Suicide Squads" were able to secure the northeastern tip of Hill 898, which the group of Khadafy Janjalani is defending.
This heroic and gallant act paved the way for the subsequent clearing of the remaining 3 clusters of enemy fortified defensive positions. After 4 hours of close combat, the Squad forced the enemy to withdraw towards the western direction. The 3 day intense firefight resulted to the killing of 68 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and the recovery of the unharmed hostages.
The 14 Ranger man team suffered a massive casualties and being pinned down but this Igorot scout ranger carried his men one by one and placed them to a safe site while he single-handedly stand his ground and act as the team's sniper shooting the enemy mortar operators and machine gunners. Dilag killed 27 rebels during the assault which resulted the demoralization of enemies and forced them to back down and giving way for the main body of the troops to attack.
By this display of exceptional courage and a high degree of leadership, SECOND LIEUTENANT DILAG distinguished himself in combat, in keeping the finest tradition of Filipino Soldiery. He was awarded the MEDAL OF VALOR the highest award in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for bravery.
Second Lieutenant Dilag's statement while he teared up upon receiving the his medal of Valor from the President of the Philippines:
"Nagising kami ng 2 a.m, Lakad na naman kami, wala kaming tulog talaga, tapos maulan pa, mabagal lang ang lakad namin kasi walang daanan at magubat pa. Nung nagka encounter ang isang kamay namin nakahawak sa ugat ng kahoy at ang isa naman bumabaril. Sa loob ng 24 hours tiniis namin yung terrain, gutom, tension, fatigue. Tapos maririnig mo yung halinghing ng mga kasama mong wounded at nagsasabing. Sir atras na tayo, wala na akng dugo, masakit na ang sugat ko, mabubuhay paba ako sir?, Yung mga ganun,. Lalong lumalabas ang di madidiskubre na tapang sa loob mo."
Dilag is now a
Major Lt. Colonel and her wife Daisy Lady is a Captain Major in the AFP. They we're blessed with two children.