“POLITICALLY motivated” is the favorite phrase of politicians who are charged in court for alleged shenanigans they commit while in office. It is not an answer to a specific allegation but an attempt to deflect attention away from the substance of the charges. It attributes ill-motive to a political opponent without providing evidence. It is, therefore, a bankrupt claim.

A variation of that has been presented recently by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Interior and Local Governments Secretary Ismael Sueno when confronted with facts about the abduction and killing of Korean national Jee Ick Joo by policemen (the Korean businessman was strangled inside Camp Crame). They said the case could be a plot to destabilize the Duterte administration.

Here’s the justice secretary’s logic: “Kung si General dela Rosa ay masisira mo, I’m sure na made-demoralize o sisirain mo ang PNP (Philippine National Police). Kapag nasira mo ang PNP na siyang arm ng Pangulong Duterte, masisira mo na rin ang administrasyon ng Pangulong Duterte. Kaya sinasabi ko ito’y posibleng hataw sa kalabaw, sa PNP, kina General dela Rosa, pero sa kabayo ang latay. Sino ang kabayo dito? Ang ating administrasyon, si Pangulong Duterte (If you can destroy General dela Rosa, I’m sure you can demoralize PNP. If you can demoralize PNP, which is the arm of President Duterte, then you can destroy the president’s administration. So I say this is a whip on the carabao, of PNP, General dela Rosa but the bruise on the horse. Who is the horse? Our administration, President Duterte).”

The logic could easily become illogical, though, considering the information that came out in the investigation into the crime that is now being referred to as “tokhang for ransom.”

Senator Grace Poe put it well: “Listening to those apparently implicated, there’s enough reason to know they acted for their own benefit, and not as part of a plot.”

But why float the destabilization angle? It is apparently to counter the embarrassment brought about by the case to the Duterte administration, which has placed the anti-crime drive as a priority in governance.

Indeed, how can police officers be so daring as to use the intensified campaign against the illegal drugs trade for extortion activities and even kill the victim inside Camp Crame?

Failure of leadership plays a part there and for Aguirre and Sueno, that’s an embarrassment considering how Malacañang has been making it appear like it is the only administration that can lick criminality in the country.