MANILA, Philippines–Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III said his brother, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, is alive and unharmed despite the heavy air and ground assault launched by Malaysian forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah on Tuesday.
The sultan said he was able to get in touch with his brother Wednesday morning.
“They are doing OK. He said they are able to eat well though they are being pursued. What can they do but to fight back,” Kiram said.
“Bombs were dropped on them but with God’s mercy, the bombs did not explode on them but on the Malaysian side,” he added.
The 74-year-old Sultan said Muslim Filipinos from Mindanao are going to Sabah to support his brother, Agbimuddin and his followers who are under heavy assault by Malaysian forces.
But he said he did not call for reinforcements.
“They might accuse me of giving the order. You cannot blame the people from going there to help my brother. I cannot blame them,” Kiram told reporters in his home in Taguig City Wednesday.
“It’s not only the Tausugs, it is the Yakan, Sama, those from Palawan, from elsewhere. Yes they are going there. If they only had a ship like Malaysia has, everyone will go there,” Kiram added.
Kiram said he did not know whether these people going to Sabah were armed.
He insisted that his followers, who have styled themselves as the sultanate’s “royal army,” are not fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“(Fighters of) the MNLF, MILF might be going there, we cannot stop them. But to us, they cannot bring the name of the Moro National Liberation Front or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” the sultan said.
Kiram said he did not seek out the MNLF’s support, as expressed by their founding chairman Nur Misuari, who visited the sultan in Taguig on Tuesday.
“If they would help, that’s OK. Their help is welcome. He just came to me as a visitor. We just met at the door,” Kiram said.
He said his brother and the 234 followers who arrived in Sabah last Feb. 12 only wanted to settle peacefully in their own land.
Kiram said they also want an end to the fighting but his followers will never agree to surrender to the Malaysian forces. “The door of the sultanate is open for negotiation. But when they said there will be no more negotiation, what shall I do?” he said.