Spilling Janet’s beans

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


THE phrase bandied about these days is "spill the beans," which the papers used in reporting that Janet Napoles has decided "to tell all" about the multimillion-peso pork barrel fraud.

Beans, the kidney-shaped seeds like the one fictional Jack used to raise the mammoth beanstalk to the giant's lair in the sky. Greeks, word experts tell us, used beans in counting, not to mean divulging a secret. And variants such as "spill your guts" or "spill the soup" are not idioms.

Spilling the beans is idiom for disclosing secrets but what secret from Janet do prosecutors don't already know?

Her testimony may give some details the whistleblowers still haven't told the Senate.

But what makes her testimony important is it's corroborative value. She can affirm what other witnesses had said about kickbacks doled out among legislators and bureaucrats.

What justice chief Leila de Lima hasn't told the public is the "quid" for Janet's "quo." Janet can't be giving the state something for nothing. Her conversion may not have been induced by avenging senator Miriam Santiago or the Holy Spirit.

But she doesn't have to be a state witness, which requires her "not to appear to be the most guilty." She doesn't need to be discharged as an accused in exchange for squealing.

Trade-off

The trade-off could be something other than total exemption from liability.

DOJ can put on the table something else: a plea bargain, in which Janet would plead guilty to a lesser offense. But as the creator of the mother of all scams, she can't be allowed to walk from it all and keep the money she admitted she stole.

(paseares@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 24, 2014.

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