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Gaunan is Mlang's war-torn village no more

 • 13:51 PM Mon Jul 27, 2015
Williamor Magbanua
Foreign medical interns join boodle fight with some Moro rebels in Barangay Gaunan, Mlang, Cotabato. (Williamor Magbanua)

MLANG, North Cotabato-- A
remote village here known in the past as battle fields, home of the bandits and
Moro revolutionary groups has been transformed into a progressive and peaceful
What used to be known among
villagers of other communities here as no man's land, the village
of Gaunan at the outskirts of Mlang is now known as peace zone.
And recently, the
residents welcomed a group of medical workers that included foreigners
accompanied by no less than Mayor Lito Pinol of Mlang.
The group was headed by Dr. Ben Valdez of Southern Philippines Medical Center
(SPMC) and Maharlika Charity Foundation, bothbased in Davao City.
The group, together with foreign medical interns,bravely immersed with
the villagers forcharity and medical missions.

Villagers were overjoyed a medical team set foot in Barangay Gaunan that benefited Moro
residents, especially children.
Accompanying Dr.
Valdez wereArmik Ghanakhani of Georgia, USA,Dalia Paceviciute of
Lithuania, Noime Lodi of Germany and Leni Dekasani of Indonesia.

Pinol said the
foreigners were a bit hesitant seeing armed Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) fighters. But the warm welcome, respect and polite gestures of the
fighters elated the visitors, he said.
It was normal that some of the foreigners were hesitant to mingle with
the locals who were heavilyarmed with assault rifles, Pinol said,
adding one of the foreigners asked him secretly if the armed men were harmless.
Pinol assured the visitors they were in good hands.
After the medical mission, the group toured the periphery of the Maguindanao
marshland and enjoyed the scenic view and endangered species like wild boar and
tarsiers, world's smallest monkey.

The portions of
the marshland included in the territorial area of Mlang used to be haven of
lawless elements that no civilians or outsiders could step in.

In the past,
anyone who happened to set foot here were either kidnapped, harmed or
killed, Pinol told the visitors. Now, the area is peaceful because of the government's peace
initiatives, he said, adding that due to improved peace and order, a vast
banana plantation mushroomed around the marshland.

Barangay Gaunan
is now conflict-free. This is now a place of peace loving people where Muslims
and Christian settlers live harmoniously,” Pinol said.

With Delinanasbanana
plantation around, most Moro fighters decided to work and earn a living
They are now
earning thousands of pesos monthly more than enough to defray basic needs,
especially foods and to send their children to school,” Pinol said of the

At least 200
hectares of barren lands, abandoned by Christian settlers in mid-90 are now
being planted with banana.

Mayor Pinol said
the Christian settlers that migrated in nearby villages in the past
havereturned to Gaunan, plant bananas withMILF fighters as workers.

Panangulon, former MILF commander and now the village chair, lauded the efforts
of the LGU leadership in turning Gaunan into a livable place to live in.

In the past, we were hopeless that
peace will dawn here. Our localleaders made things possible,
Panangulon said.

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