Malacañang said having good health is enough reason for Filipinos to have a merry Christmas despite the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on everyone’s lives for the better part of the year.
In an interview with state-run PTV-4, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said celebrating Christmas has always been part of Filipino culture.
“Ang Merry Christmas nasa puso naman natin yan basta tayo po’y kapiling natin an gating pamilya, ligtas sa sakit (A Merry Christmas is in our hearts as long as we’re with our families and are healthy),” he said Wednesday, 100 days before Christmas.
“‘Yan ay enough reason para magkaroon tayo ng Merry Christmas sa panahon ng pandemya (That is enough reason to have a Merry Christmas during the pandemic),” he added.
The public has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns since March this year. The quarantine has caused thousands of people to lose their jobs and means of livelihood.
In one of his public addresses last month, President Duterte assured the public that Filipinos may enjoy a COVID-19-free Christmas with the development of vaccines, particularly Russia’s Sputnik V, which has been offered to the Philippines.
Malacañang announced last month that an expert panel review from the Philippines will first have to review the results of the first and second phases of the clinical trials of the Russian vaccine this month.
The third phase of the clinical trials of Sputnik V by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology will be held simultaneously in the Philippines and Russia from October 2020 to March 2021. According to Roque, Russia will fund the clinical trials in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Malacañang is expecting the Sputnik V to be registered with the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by April 2021. Roque, President Duterte may only receive the vaccine after it is registered with the FDA.
Despite this, Roque said a Christmas without COVID-19 is still possible as other countries are also developing their own vaccines.