SC scolds 2 lawyers for misleading firm name

In Kokubu v. Tongo, it was found that respondents used the firm name Calatrava Tongo Law Office in a letter addressed to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Respondent Atty. Rodrigo T. Tongo (Tongo) likewise used the same firm name in two letters addressed to complainant and his client's (Marcial G. Digal's) parents. Respondent Atty. Remie A. Calatrava (Calatrava) allowed respondent Tongo to indicate his name in respondent Tongo's letterhead despite his categorical statement that they were not partners and that they practice their profession independently. Thus, the use of the firm name Calatrava Tongo Law Office is clearly violative of Rule 3.02, Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), for misleading the public. Rule 3.02, Canon 3 of the CPR states:
Rule 3.02 — In the choice of a firm name, no false, misleading or assumed name shall be used. The continued use of the name of a deceased partner is permissible provided that the firm indicates in all its communications that said partner is deceased.
For misleading the public into thinking that respondents are partners in the legal profession, the Investigating Commissioner, as affirmed by the IBP-BOG, was correct in recommending the penalty of reprimand. Moreover, with respondent Calatrava's Ex-parte Manifestation showing his remorse for allowing his name to be associated with the office of respondent Tongo, this Court agrees with the IBP-BOG's August 31, 2017 Resolution reducing respondent Calatrava's penalty to an admonition.

The Supreme Court decided to REPRIMAND respondent Atty. Rodrigo T. Tongo and to ADMONISH respondent Atty. Remie A. Calatrava with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense by respondents shall be dealt with more severely. (Kokubu v. Tongo and Calatrava. A.C. No. 12199, July 23, 2018)

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