We won't leave Sabah - Sultanate followers

MANILA, Philippines - Followers of the Sulu Sultanate who remain holed up in Lahud Datu are preparing for the next attack of Malaysian police authorities after they buried their dead at sundown Friday, March 1. They will stay put in Sabah.

Quoting the leader of the Sultanate's Royal Forces, spokesperson Abraham Idjirani on Saturday, March 2, said, “After we buried our 9 brothers and sister at sundown everyone of the 214 left decided to die in Lahad Datu in pursuit of their dreams and aspiration."

SPOKESMAN. Abraham Idjirani says followers of the Sulu Sultanate have decided to stay put in Sabah. Photo by Jerald Uy

SPOKESMAN. Abraham Idjirani says followers of the Sulu Sultanate have decided to stay put in Sabah.

Photo by Jerald Uy

Of the 214, 7 are women and 207 are men.

Those still in Sabah declared they are willing to die to fight for their patrimony, Idjirani said. “Honor above life – these are the words of our beloved Crown Prince Raja Muda Adbimuddin to his brother Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.”

More than half of them are armed only with a kris and barong (smaller than a kris), and about 40% have guns which they brought with them for protection.

As of 10:35 am, 10 of their men have been captured by Malaysian authorities while the number of casualties remain unchanged with 10 dead and 4 injured from their side, Idjirani said.

Heavy heart

“As we make this announcement in this moment of history, we are carrying a heavy heart. The Sultanate of Sulu in full council and family decide to put into the hands of Allah the fate of our brothers,” the spokesperson added.

“Let the blood of 10 martyrs charter the course of the new history of the Sultanate of Sulu.”

Idjirani also called for the US government to intervene, citing the 1915 Kiram-Carpenter Agreement, where the “US agreed to place the Sultanate of Sulu under their protection.”

“US cannot escape the fact that they have an obligation by assisting us, not through violent means but hanapan ng solusyon (to find solutions in this conflict),” Idjirani said.

Prevent bloodshed

On Friday night, the Aquino administration said it wants to take advantage of a "small window" to prevent further bloodshed in Sabah.

Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters, “There’s a small window that still exists to prevent further bloodshed, and to end this without any more loss of life." He also said, "We are exerting every effort now to use that window to try to contain and prevent any more violence. And we urge the Kiram family to seize this opportunity." 

The Malaysian government had confirmed that at least 12 followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III were killed in the Friday morning assault on Lahad Datu that was meant to end the 17-day standoff. Two members of the Malaysian security forces were also killed. This brings to 14 the total number of people killed as a result of the assault. Idjirani however said they had 10 dead.

Idjarani said that before any decision could be made on whether the Sultanate will allow its people to return, the government and the Kirams need to sit down to talk about what he termed as  "arrangements."

Carandang conceded the standoff could not be considered over because there were still Malaysian forces and the followers of Kiram in the area. (Read: Sultan fears crackdown)

Carandang noted that Malaysian Prime Minister Najbi Razak had also said he wanted a peaceful end to the conflict. "We have no reason to believe otherwise," Carandang said, adding, “We’re taking him at his word." - Rappler.com