Message of President Corazon Aquino on the Community Employment and Development Program

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February 15, 1988


The eradication of poverty through the vast creation of jobs is the highest priority of President Aquino’s administration. The Community Employment and Development Program (CEDP), launched in August 1986, is designed to generate jobs through numerous small-scale and labor-intensive projects in the countryside.

President Aquino reports on the progress of the CEDP implementation. In 1986 and 1987, the P8.7 billion appropriation for 53,842 projects generated more than one million new jobs. She stressed the need for the participation of the community and nongovernment organizations in the implementation of CEDP. Their participation will contribute towards achieving self-reliance and evolving a government that is truly sensitive and responsive to the people.

From the very start, this Administration set the immediate and vast creation of jobs as its highest priority. Poverty being a widespread and long-time problem, its eradication would require long-term solutions. But the sufferings that poverty inflicts — malnutrition, disease, pain, particularly on children — are always immediate, even as the wounds it leaves behind become permanent afflictions: mental retardation, weakness, and an abiding mistrust for the order of things. And so we set ourselves to implement a program that would create jobs and provide income quickly to as many of our poverty-stricken people as possible. This was the Community Employment & Development Program or CEDP.

The program, launched in August 1986, was designed to generate jobs fast through numerous small-scale and labor intensive projects in the countryside. Projects like barangay roads, water pumps and sewage, and school buildings. The program was also intended to serve as a pump priming measure. P3.9 billion was appropriated in the first year for 22,842 projects which generated 389,853 jobs that year. Purchasing power improved markedly. ’86 was a good year for business, the first time in a long time.

For 1987, P4.8 billion was appropriated from the budgets of different line agencies for the implementation of 31,000 projects. A total of 650,000 new jobs were targeted. As of the first of this month, about 20,000 projects were completed, another 8,000 are ongoing ─ an implementation rate of 94.3 percent. Sixty percent of the targetted jobs had been achieved.

But CEDP had more in mind than just the alternate digging and filling of holes just to put money for the time being in the pockets of our people. The projects, numerous though they were, were carefully reviewed to see how they contributed to long-term improvement in the lives of our people, particularly on heightening a posture of self-reliance. The people were consulted on these projects. An axiom of our thinking is that the various communities know best the directions they should take and how best to get to their goals. Another, corollary to this, is that you have to listen to the people, because only the people collectively have the power to effect the improvements this country needs. We encouraged the participation of non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Program. It was both a way of harnessing the energies of the people, and enlisting their vigilance against a recurrence of the corruption of government, especially local government. We drew in a host of civic organizations to help us: the Jaycees, Rotary, Namfrel, rural improvement clubs, Madre, and concerned citizens groups such as those in Abra, Benguet, Isabels Cebu and Zamboanga; religious groups such as the Knights of Columbus, parish pastoral councils, the United Methodist Church, the Catholic Women’s League, veterans organizations, and others too many to mention here. The Namfrel, being the most experienced and battle-tested, topped them all in the wideness of its reach and the penetration of its vigilance. These organizations have tried to keep an eagle eye on our operations and rein in government corruption, waste, and incompetence. This is just the beginning. Much more needs to be done to check graft and foot-dragging in the government’s implementation of projects. But the participation of those who have monitored the CEDP will go a long way towards evolving a government that is truly sensitive and responsive to the people. The progress of CEDP to date encourages us to believe that people power for development has come of age. It will prove as effective in bringing material and moral progress to our nation as it showed itself unbeatable in achieving and protecting our freedom. Thank you and good day.

Source: Presidential Museum and Library