Estrada vs Escritor (August 4, 2003)
Estrada vs. Escritor
AM P-02-1651, August 4, 2003
Soledad Escritor is a court interpreter since 1999 in the RTC of Las Pinas City. Alejandro Estrada, the complainant, wrote to Judge Jose F. Caoibes, presiding judge of Branch 253, RTC of Las Pinas City, requesting for an investigation of rumors that Escritor has been living with Luciano Quilapio Jr., a man not her husband, and had eventually begotten a son. Escritor’s husband, who had lived with another woman, died a year before she entered into the judiciary. On the other hand, Quilapio is still legally married to another woman. Estrada is not related to either Escritor or Quilapio and ...view middle of the document...
A distinction between public and secular morality and religious morality should be kept in mind. The jurisdiction of the Court extends only to public and secular morality.
The Court states that our Constitution adheres the benevolent neutrality approach that gives room for accommodation of religious exercises as required by the Free Exercise Clause. This benevolent neutrality could allow for accommodation of morality based on religion, provided it does not offend compelling state interests.
The state’s interest is the preservation of the integrity of the judiciary by maintaining among its ranks a high standard of morality and decency. “There is nothing in the OCA’s (Office of the Court Administrator) memorandum to the Court that demonstrates how this interest is so compelling that it should override respondent’s plea of religious freedom. Indeed, it is inappropriate for the complainant, a private person, to present evidence on the compelling interest of the state. The burden of evidence should be discharged by the proper agency of the government which is the Office of the Solicitor General”.
In order to properly settle the case at bar, it is essential that the government be given an...