The Muslim town of Datu Paglas is located in the Southern Part of the Philippine Archipelago. It has an approximate land area of 26,000 hectares and a population of about 30,000 people. It is among the 18 municipalities enlisted in Maguindanao. The town was officially registered on November 22, 1974 by virtue Executive Order No. 340. It had 25 baranggays upon its’ inception – all of which are still part on it until today.

During the earliest years of its’ existence, the town Datu Paglas was the scene of some of the fiercest battles between the Philippine Government and the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). When the war reached a lull, criminality and violence ruled the town for nearly a decade. Clearly, with the hostile situation, there seemed to be no room for development as governance was practically non-functional. But the almighty Allah had other plans for the town. In 1998, Datu Ibrahim Paglas III was elected mayor, and like a loyal servant of Allah, he rallied his town into one of the country’s biggest turnarounds in recent history.

With no-nonsense mayor Paglas at the helm, crime rate and violence in the town dropped drastically. In fact, since 1991, the town has recorded a zero crime rate! The mayor’s “anti-laziness” campaign further boosted the morale of his constituents. In 1997, their efforts were rewarded when a group of investors built a major banana plantation in the town. Expectedly, the economy rose, jobs became aplenty and life became rosy for this town was once given up as a “no man’s land”.

The town is presently the focus of an extraordinary attention by top-level observers from a variety of sectors, both government and private, both local and international, because of the drama behind its ongoing prosperity and popularity. Dubbed the “Datu Paglas Experience: From War Zone to Economic Zone” by the Canadian International Development Authority, this town is now the undisputed showcase of ARMM. The town, and the leadership of Datu Ibrahim Paglas, has over the past few years been featured in at least two major international events in the Philippines. First was the International Islamic Business Conference, held in Zamboanga City in December 1998, and attended by more than 300 delegates from all over the world. The second was the World Conference on Governance in Manila in June 1999, with the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Asian Development Bank as the principal sponsors, and attended by more than 1, 100 delegates also from all over the world. The town was also invited to participate, the only one from the Philippines, in the widely-attended 25th Tehran International Trade Fair in October of 1999, at Tehran, Iran.

This is the Datu Paglas experience…… and we are inviting you to be part of it.

“Datu Paglas is a place where peace and development is being cooked up. This was the prevailing impression we had as we left the former embattled town of Datu Paglas, now a living example of peace, stability and development in progress.” – SZOPAD Newsletter, July 1998

“From basket case to star performer, from war zone to agricultural boomtowm. This deceptively ordinary town of Datu Paglas has an extraordinary story to tell” – Marites Vitug