Respondent Escritor testified that when she entered the judiciary in 1999,
she was already a widow,her husband having died in 1998.
She admitted that she has been living with Luciano Quilapio, Jr.without the benefit of marriage for twenty years and that they have a son. But as a member of thereligious sect known as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society, their conjugal arrangement is in conformity with their religious beliefs. In fact, after ten years of livingtogether, she executed on July 28, 1991 a "Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness,"
:DECLARATION OF PLEDGING FAITHFULNESSI, Soledad S. Escritor, do hereby declare that I have accepted Luciano D. Quilapio, Jr., as mymate in marital relationship; that I have done all within my ability to obtain legal recognition of this relationship by the proper public authorities and that it is because of having been unableto do so that I therefore make this public declaration pledging faithfulness in this maritalrelationship.I recognize this relationship as a binding tie before 'Jehovah' God and before all persons tobe held to and honored in full accord with the principles of God's Word. I will continue to seekthe means to obtain legal recognition of this relationship by the civil authorities and if at anyfuture time a change in circumstances make this possible, I promise to legalize this union.Signed this 28th day of July 1991.
Escritor's partner, Quilapio, executed a similar pledge on the same day.
Both pledges wereexecuted in Atimonan, Quezon and signed by three witnesses. At the time Escritor executed her pledge, her husband was still alive but living with another woman. Quilapio was likewise married atthat time, but had been separated in fact from his wife. During her testimony, Escritor volunteered topresent members of her congregation to confirm the truthfulness of their "Declarations of PledgingFaithfulness," but Judge Caoibes deemed it unnecessary and considered her identification of her signature and the signature of Quilapio sufficient authentication of the documents.
Judge Caoibes endorsed the complaint to Executive Judge Manuel B. Fernandez, Jr., who, in turn,endorsed the same to Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo. On July 17, 2001, the Court, uponrecommendation of Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepaño, directed Escritor to comment onthe charge against her. In her comment, Escritor reiterated her religious congregation's approval of her conjugal arrangement with Quilapio, viz:Herein respondent does not ignore alleged accusation but she reiterates to state with candor that there is no truth as to the veracity of same allegation. Included herewith are documentsdenominated as Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness (Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2) duly signed byboth respondent and her mate in marital relationship with the witnesses concurring their acceptance to the arrangement as approved by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE and TRACTSOCIETY, Philippine Branch.Same marital arrangement is recognized as a binding tie before "JEHOVAH" God and beforeall persons to be held to and honored in full accord with the principles of God's Word.xxx xxx xxxUndersigned submits to the just, humane and fair discretion of the Court with verificationfrom the WATCH TOWER BIBLE and TRACT SOCIETY, Philippine Branch . . . to whichundersigned believes to be a high authority in relation to her case.