|USAID Infrastructure Projects Keep on Going without Fanfare|
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Working with local partners, the U.S. government has built more than 1,000 community infrastructure projects across conflict-affected areas of Mindanao to support increased economic activity and help fulfill the promises of peace.
PAGLAT, MAGUINDANAO—In the local language, paglat means “demarcation.” It’s an ironic name for this small Central Mindanao municipality on the ever-shifting margins of the vast Liguasan Marsh.
Life for Paglat’s residents was, for a long time indeed marginal, and not just because of the isolation bred by sporadic conflict and lack of economic activity. The municipality had little agricultural infrastructure, and three of its eight barangays are in a particularly swampy area.
“Corn harvests were poor, and had to be suspended above ground because otherwise they would rot. In one barangay, people’s bellies often swelled because of the bad water,” recalls Datu Abdulkarim Langkuno of his early days as mayor of Paglat.
“Things were not much different from Spanish times and the second World War,” Langkuno added. “People were so poor they went about barefoot, children could not go to school.”
For years, different armed groups—including separatist forces and criminal gangs—crisscrossed the area at will, clashing with government troops and each other.
“Sa totoo, rebelde ang mga tao diyan at hindi naniniwala sa gobiyerno [In truth, people were rebellious and had no trust in government],” Langkuno said.