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Estrada v. Escritor(2006).docx

Estrada v. Escritor(2006).docx

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Published by: Andre Philippe Ramos on Jan 15, 2013
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01/10/2014

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Digest Author: Dodot 
Estrada v. Escritor (2006)Administrative Matter:
Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct
Complainant:
Alejandro Estrada
 Respondent:
Soledad F. Escritor
Ponente:
J. Puno
Date:
22 June 2006
Case Statement:
Soledad stands before the Court invoking her religious freedom and her Jehovah God in a bid to save her family 
– 
united without thebenefit of legal marriage
– 
and livelihood. The State, on the other hand, seeks to wield its power to regulate her behavior and protect its interest in marriage and family and the integrity of the courtswhere Soledad is an employee.
Facts:
 
1999
 –
 
Soledad entered the judiciary, already a widow(since 1998)
 
Started living with Luciano Quilapio, Jr (extramarital, 20years hence) while her husband was also living w/ anotherwoman
o
 
Has a son w/ Quilapio
o
 
Member of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) –
Soledadclaims that the conjugal arrangement is inconformity w/ her religion
 
28 July 1991
 –
as proof of her commitment to Quilapio,executed a Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness
o
 
This pledge allows members of JW
 –
who hadbeen abandoned by their spouses
 –
to enter intomarital relations [w/ other persons]
o
 
Recognition that given the circumstances, thoseexecuting the pledge are not able to get civilrecognition of the subsequent marriage, becauseof legal impediments
 
Even after her subsisting marriage wasdissolved by the death of her husband,
Soledad’s partner –
Quilapio
 –
still wasnot capacitated to marry
 
27 July 2000
 –
Estrada requested Judge Caoibes, Jr. (LasPinas RTC, Br. 253) to investigate Soledad
 –
working as acourt interpreter
 –
for her live-in arrangement.
o
 
Subsequently, she was charged with committing
“disgraceful and immoral conduct” under Book
V, Title I, Chapter VI Sec. 46(b)(5) of the RevisedAdministrative Code
 
4 Aug 2003
 –
The SC remanded the complaint to the Officeof the Court Administrator.
o
 
Requested OSG to intervene (Compelling StateInterest)
 
Examine sincerity/centrality of claimedreligious beliefs/practices
 
Present evidence: compelling stateinterest
 
Show: means of pursuing state interestleast restrictive
o
 
TASK OF COURT: determine whether evidenceadduced by the State proves its more compellinginterest and on that basis, decide if Soledadshould be held administratively liable
Pertinent laws/provisions/concepts:
Religion Clauses (First Amendment)
 
Establishment Clause (No favored religions/religiousgroups)
 
Free Exercise Clause (No penalties for religious beliefs)Jurisprudence of separation
 
Strict separation/Strict neutrality (Government Neutrality)
o
 
Establishment clause: meant to protect the Statefrom the Church
 –
religious orgs. should neverreceive aid, direct or indirect, from the State.
 
Benevolent neutrality/Accommodation
o
 
Meant to protect the Church from the State
 –
 separation must be clearly definedReasons why the (Philippine) Consti. mandates the Court to makeexemptions in cases involving criminal laws of general application(on ground of free exercise)
 
Benevolent neutrality-accommodation is even morepronounced in the Philippines
 
Purpose of accommodation theory (mandatory orpermissive): to address the inadvertent burdensome effectthat an otherwise facially neutral law would have onreligious exercise
 
To protect minority religions from the inevitable effects of majoritarianism
 
Exemption from penal laws on account of religion is not anentirely alien concept
 –
ex. exemption from bigamycharges of Moslem marriages
 
Unlike other rights (ex. life, liberty, and property), religionclauses stated in absolute terms
Issues:
1.
 
Should Soledad be found guilty of the administrative
charge, “disgraceful and immoral conduct” *for her live
-inarrangement with Quilapio, for religious reasons]?
Ruling/Ratio:1.
 
NO.
[Soledad’s conjugal arrangement cannot be
penalized
 –
she is entitled to an exemption from the lawbased on her fundamental right to freedom of religion]Compelling State Interest Test
a.
 
Sincerity of religious belief 
 
Beyond serious doubt
 
Burden thus
shifted to gov’t
: it must be ableto show that conditions (b) and (c) aresufficiently metb.
 
Presence of compelling state interest
 
OSG failed to show evidence to support this
 
Only contended that the State has acompelling interest to override the
respondent’s religious beliefs in order to
protect marriage and the family as basicsocial institutions (Sec. 12, Art. II, Consti.)
 
Carpio: majority opinion condone andaccords a semblance of legitimacy to
the respondent’s
patently unlawfulcohabitation and facilitates thecircumvention of the Revised PenalCode

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