Malacañang on Tuesday said that staying alive until Christmas—not President Rodrigo Duterte’s assurance to have a Covid-free December— should be the reason to celebrate the holiday season this year.

“Ang Merry Christmas nasa puso naman natin iyan. Basta tayo po’y kapiling natin ang mga pamilya, ligtas sa sakit, tayo po’y magkakaroon ng Merry Christmas,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a Laging Handa briefing.

“Kung tayo po’y buhay, iyan ay enough reason para magkaroon tayo ng Merry Christmas sa panahon ng pandemya,” he added.

Speaking in a national address in July, Duterte vowed life in the Philippines will be back to normal by December.

“I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal,” Duterte said, noting that his only request to the public was to endure and adhere to health guidelines.

The country has yet to secure Covid-19 vaccine supplies with pharma giant Pfizer and the Russian government, but negotiations had already begun.

Russia’s “Sputnik V” Covid-19 vaccine will start local clinical trials by October and is expected to be registered under the Food and Drug Administration by April 2021.

The government said the 20 million poorest Filipinos would be given Covid-19 vaccines for free. John Ezekiel J. Hirro