Abenion vs. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation

G.R. No. 200749. February 6, 2017


In 1996, Plaintiffs identified themselves as a group of banana plantation worker, filed a case for damages against Shell Oil and other foreign corporations that manufactured, sold, distributed, or used the parasite nematode which caused their sterility and other serious and permanent health injuries. During the pendency of Civil Case No. 95-45, Shell Oil entered into a compromise agreement with its claimants for a total consideration of US$17 Million. The copy submitted to the court did not bear the agreement’s exhibits which, according to Shell Oil, indicated the list of 26,328 “worldwide plaintiffs” intended to be covered by the compromise. In view of the compromise, the complaint against Shell Oil was dismissed.  Civil Case No. 95-45 was later transferred to the RTC of Davao City, and the plaintiffs prayed for the enforcement of judgment based on the Compromise Agreement since Shell Oil allegedly failed to fully satisfy its obligations to them. Shell Oil argued that it had fully complied with the terms of the compromise agreement. The approved compromise and amount stated therein covered 26,328 agricultural workers from across the globe who filed various cases against it and not just the 1,843 plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 95-45. The RTC resolved the motion in favor of the plaintiffs.

Although not a defendant in Civil Case No. 95-45, PSPC was brought into the case when the plaintiffs filed with the RTC Davao City an ex parte motion alleging that PSPC was one of Shell Oil’s “subsidiaries, affiliates, controlled and related entities or assigns.

Sheriff Esguerra sought to implement the alias writ against PSPC and, thus, issued a notice of garnishment to cover the latter’s accounts with BDO. Aggrieved, PSPC filed with the RTC Makati two actions- 1. (Civil Case No. 09-749) Petition for Prohibition against Sheriff Esguerra and the plaintiffs for from enforcing the Alias Writ of Execution and the notice of garnishment since PSPC insisted that it was never a party to Civil Case No. 95-45 and the compromise agreement is between Shell Oil and the plaintiffs; and 2. (Civil Case No. 109-941) Complaint for Injunction with application for TRO and/or WPI. against BDO and John Doe. It sought to prevent BDO from releasing its funds to Sheriff Esguerra and his deputies, Sheriff Villamor Villegas and Sheriff Rommel Ignacio, or any other person who might attempt to withdraw the funds. PSPC insisted that its liability for the claims against Shell Oil had not yet been determined with finality. 

Some of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 95-45 later moved to intervene as John Doe Intervenors, claiming to be the parties who would benefit from the release of the garnished BDO deposits. The RTC Makati granted the motion for intervention. PSPC moved to reconsider, but this was denied. PSPC filed with the CA the petition for certiorari on the ground that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in allowing the intervention despite the CA-Mindanao Station’s nullification, of the RTC Davao City’s Amended Order dated August 11, 2009 and Alias Writ of Execution upon which the intervention was based. The petitioners insist that their interest in the case stems from their standing in Civil Case No. 95-45, being the persons intended to benefit from the RTC Davao City’s amended order and alias writ of execution affecting PSPC.



Whether or not petitioners plea to intervene in PSPC’s injunction case against BDO is correctly rejected by the Court of Appeals


Yes, petitioners are wanting of any legal interest in Civil Case No. 09-941. Intervention, as a remedy, is not a right but a matter that is left to the court’s discretion. In all cases, legal interest in the matter in litigation is an indispensable requirement among intervenors. The interest, which entitles one to intervene, must involve the matter in litigation and of such direct and immediate character that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment. The herein petitioners failed to establish their interest in the funds of PSPC. The latter was neither their creditor nor one that could be held liable for the obligations of Shell Oil under the subject compromise agreement. The petitioners did not stand to lose by the injunction that was prayed for before the trial court.

Civil Case No. 09-941 was a complaint for injunction filed by PSPC against BDO and John Doe, as it sought to prevent the bank from releasing its funds to the sheriffs or any other person who might attempt to withdraw from its accounts under Civil Case No. 95-45. After finding that Shell Oil had fully satisfied its obligations under the compromise agreement, the CA went on to cite the RTC Davao City’s error in declaring affiliates and subsidiaries such as PSPC liable for the obligations of Shell Oil. Clearly, the circumstances rendered baseless the petitioners’ pursuit against the funds of PSPC, if only to enforce a judgment claim that they had against Shell Oil.


Intervention, as a remedy, is not a right but a matter that is left to the court’s discretion.