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A.C. No. 4934 March 17, 2004DANIEL S. AQUINO v. ATTY.

MARIA
LOURDES VILLAMAR-MANGAOANG
FACTS
On July 2, 1996, a passenger named Christopher B. Gomez arrived at the NAIA from
San Francisco, Californiaunder Flight PR105. When one of his balikbayan boxes
passed through the Bureau of Customs xray machine, theimage of what looked like
handgun parts appeared. A rigid examination conducted by Customs Examiner
ManolitoErmitao confirmed that the items were assorted gun parts. The Chairman of
the NAIA-DOJ Prosecution TaskForce caused the filing of a criminal complaint
against Gomez with the Department of Justice.Complainant claims that prior to or
during the preliminary investigation of the case, particularly on September 2,1996,
NAIA Customs Police Officer Apolonio Bustos and respondent ordered the transfer of
the gun parts insideGomezs balikbayan box to another box. She then ordered Office
Messenger Joseph Maniquis to deliver to theState Prosecutor the balikbayan box
without the gun parts. According to complainant, respondent did thisbecause Gomez
was a close friend. The switching of the balikbayan boxes and the substitution of the
evidenceresulted in the dismissal of the criminal charges against Gomez.Respondent
avers that she could not have switched the contents of the balikbayan box of Gomez
because shewas not in charge of the physical disposition of the evidence. She pointed
out that if complainants allegationswere true, he should have filed a complaint
against her after the case against Gomez was dismissed in 1996.However, he waited
more than two years before bringing these unfounded and false accusations against
her.The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation,
report and recommendation. OnMarch 4, 2003, the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit.
ISSUEThis administrative complaint prays that respondent be disbarred for allegedly
introducing false evidence in acase and for breaching her duties to the legal profession
RULINGThe duty of the Court towards members of the bar is not only limited to the
administration of discipline to thosefound culpable of misconduct but also to the
protection of the reputation of those frivolously or maliciouslycharged. In
disbarment proceedings
, the burden of proof is upon the complainant and this Court will exercise
itsdisciplinary power only if the complainant establishes his case by clear, convincing
and satisfactory evidence. Inthe case at bar, complainant failed to meet the required
evidentiary standard. In the absence of convincing or clearly preponderant evidence,
as in this case, the complaint for disbarment against respondent should bedismissed.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the complaint is hereby DISMISSED for
lack of merit.