(File photo)

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday expressed hope that all registered voters will be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in time for the national and local elections on May 9.

Nograles said the national government is aiming to fully vaccinate 77 million Filipinos—including voters—by the first quarter of 2022 to help protect them against severe disease and death from the virus.

“Bago pa man sumapit ang April or even May, gusto natin yung adult population natin lahat po ay fully vaccinated. Sa ganoong paraan dagdag proteksyon para sa mga botante (Before April or even May, we want our adult population to be fully vaccinated. That way, it would be an additional protection for voters),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Aside from getting their Covid-19 jabs, Nograles said voters should also continue adhering to minimum public health standards in polling precincts.

“Yung bakuna is one layer of protection, pero yung ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’, gaya nga ng sinabi ni [Health] Secretary Duque kagabi sa Talk to the People, more than 90 percent protection yun, adherence natin to minimum public health standards (The vaccine is one layer of protection, but as Secretary Duque said during last night’s Talk to the People, adherence to minimum public health standards provides 90 percent protection from the virus),” he added.

Meanwhile, he said the Palace will leave it up to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure that such Covid-19 health protocols are observed.

On Dec. 31, 2021, Duterte deputized the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other law enforcement agencies for the May 2022 polls.

Under Memorandum Order No. 59, law enforcement agencies and other concerned agencies are directed to coordinate and cooperate with the Comelec in the performance of their duties and functions.

The Comelec earlier said unvaccinated voters will be allowed to cast their votes in the upcoming elections.

However, those in quarantine are not allowed to vote unless Congress passes a law allowing them to vote by mail.

As of January 17, the Department of Health said a total of 55,195,488 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

With the current pace of vaccination, Nograles said the country is set to fully vaccinate 70 percent of its total population in 53 days. (PNA)