CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino have threatened to sue each other: obstruction of justice, against Michael; defamation, against Tomas.

The problem with the threats is they’re both empty. Just like paper swords brandished by quarreling juveniles.

They can sue, yes, but the complaints will merely add to the congestion at the ombudsman’s office and most likely will be thrown out.

Each looks too limp to fly.

Tomas alleges that Dino asked Ermita Barangay Chief Imok Rupinta to recommend his replacement. Is that obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree 1829?

Not criminal

On obstructing prosecution of criminal offenders under the said law, Dino’s act may not fall under section 1 listing the offenses: from (a), preventing a witness to testify, all the way to (i), giving false information.

Dino’s act is unseemly. The suspended official shouldn’t have anything to do with who replaces him; the replacement might do what Rupinta is stopped from doing during his suspension.

It may border on the unethical but not obstruction of justice under the 1981 law.

But then there’s also no firm ground to support a defamation complaint. Dino’s chief of staff Jonji Gonzales says Tomas “senselessly dragged (Dino’s) name to the mud.” Jonji didn’t specify but Tomas’s threat to sue is no muck and offers no probable cause. A lot of ill will, presumably, but no defamatory words. And, good heavens, Tomas and Michael are both public officials who can trade views and barbs without further clogging ombudsman traffic.

Weak support

Each must know the weak legal support for his threat. Why the threats to sue then?

That’s part of the arsenal of argument, a device which used to impress the public that the combatant who’s ready to go to court must be right.

“Used to,” not anymore. The public can now see well through the bluster.