Cayetano, Bello deny 'shouting match' over Kuwait fiasco

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 1) — There is no truth to the reported "shouting match" between the Foreign Affairs and Labor Secretaries, both top officials said on Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano denied the reports as he was seated beside Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in the turnover of the Pagkalinga sa Bayan to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu.

"Unang-una, hindi kami pwedeng magsigawan dahil hindi marunong sumigaw si Sec. Bello. At papayagan ba naman ni Presidente na sisigawan ko 'yung mas senior sa akin?" Cayetano said.

[Translation: First of all, it's not possible for us to have a shouting match because Sec. Bello is mild-mannered. Second, President Duterte will not allow me to yell at someone who is more senior than me.]

Philippine Star reported on Tuesday Cayetano and Bello shouted at each other and argued over who was to blame for the Kuwait fiasco, according to their sources. They said the heated argument happened last week in  Malacañang Palace amid the diplomatic spat with Kuwait.

The Labor Chief said there is no disagreement because he supports the Foreign Affairs Department's move to rescue distressed OFWs in Kuwait.

"I supported the decision of the DFA Secretary Alan... Tama 'yung ginawa niyang pag-rescue, hindi na kailangan ng permiso-permiso... Kailangan immediate action," Bello said.

[Translation: I supported the decision of the DFA Secretary Alan. There is no need for permission for the rescue, because it needs immediate action.]

Tense relations with Kuwait began after Duterte ordered a deployment ban following the brutal murder of household worker Joanna Demafelis.

It hit an all-time low after an unauthorized video of a rescue mission went viral, prompting the Gulf state to declare the Philippine ambassador Renato Villa a persona nongrata. A memorandum of understanding to protect workers has since been shoved into the backburner.

CNN Philippines' Chad de Guzman, Regine Cabato contributed to this report.