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Discipline of Lawyers (Prescription)

Calo v. Degamo
A.C. No. 516, June 27, 1967
REYES, J.B.L., J:

Doctrine: The ordinary statutes of limitation have no application to disbarment proceeding.

Facts: This is a disbarment proceedings against the respondent Esteban Degamo upon a
verifed letter-complaint of the petitioner, Calo, charging the former having committed false
statement under oath or perjury in connection with his appointment as Chief of Police of
Carmen, Agusan.

Respondent Degamo, an applicant to the position of Chief of Police of Carmen, Agusan


subscribed and swore to a filled-out Information Sheet before their mayor. The said sheet called
for answers about name, personal circumstances, educational attainment, civil service eligibility
and so forth. One item required to be filled out reads: "Criminal or police record, if any including
those which did not reach the Court. (State the details of case and the final outcome)" to which
respondent answered, "None." However, on the day respondent swore, there was pending
against him a criminal case for illegal possession of explosive powder.

Because of that, a letter-complaint for disbarment against respondent was filed by petitioner
Calo Jr. charging the former with "having committed false statement under oath or perjury" in
connection with his appointment as Chief of Police of Carmen, Agusan. During the investigation,
petitioner adduced evidenced but not respondent for which reason the investigating fiscal
considered him as having waived his right to present evidence. On the basis thereof, the
Solicitor General filed his report and recommending the disbarment of respondent for gross
conduct. Petitioner's letter-complaint was filed on 1962 while the act of the respondent
complained of was committed on 1959. Without explaining how and upon what authority,
respondent, among others, invokes the defense of prescription.

Issue: Whether or not the defense of prescription may be used by Degamo since the letter-
complaint was filed on 1962 while the act complained of was committed on 1959.

Held:The Court ruled in the negative. This defense does not lie; the rule is that the ordinary
statues of limitation have no application to disbarment proceedings, nor does the circumstance
that the facts set up as a ground for disbarment constitute a crime, prosecution for which in a
criminal proceeding is barred by limitation, affect the disbarment proceedings. Nor is the
pendency for the criminal case a prejudicial question, since the ground for disbarment in the
present proceeding is not for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude but for gross
misconduct. A violation of a criminal law is not a bar to disbarment and an acquittal is no
obstacle to cancellation of the lawyer's license.

The issue is whether or not he acted honestly when he denied under oath the existence against
him of any criminal or police record. In this, he did not tell the truth. He deliberately concealed it
in order to secure an appointment in his own favor. He failed to maintain that high degree of
morality expected and required of a member of the bar, and he has violated his oath as a lawyer
to do no "falsehood". For the foregoing reasons, Degamo is hereby disbarred, his name ordered
stricken from the roll of attorneys.