Cabansag v Fernandez; G.R. No. L-8974; 18 Oct 1957; 102 Phil 152

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Apolonio Cabansag filed a complaint seeking the ejectment of Germiniana Fernandez from a parcel of land. He later wrote a letter to the Presidential Complaints and Action Commission (PCAC) regarding the delay in the disposition of his case before the CFI Pangasinan. The judge ordered Cabansag and his lawyers to show cause why he should not be held liable for contempt for sending such letter which tended to degrade the court in the eyes of the President (Magsaysay) and the people. After due hearing, the court rendered a decision finding Cabansag and his lawyers guilty of contempt and sentencing them to pay a fine.

Whether or not Cabansag’s letter created a sufficient danger to a fair administration of justice?

NO. The letter was sent to the Office of the President asking for help because of the precarious predicament of Cabansag. While the course of action he had taken may not be a wise one for it would have been proper had he addressed his letter to the Secretary of Justice or to the Supreme Court, such act alone would not be contemptuous. To be so the danger must cause a serious imminent threat to the administration of justice. Nor can we infer that such act has “a dangerous tendency” to belittle the court or undermine the administration of justice for the writer merely exercised his constitutional right to petition the government for redress of a legitimate grievance.

Petition is GRANTED and appealed decision is REVERSED.

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