WHILE the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd was laid to rest on Monday, the Council of Elders of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is set to convene to choose his successor.
Sultanate Spokesman Abraham Idjirani said the council is mandated to select the next possible successor to the throne in case a Sultan passes away.
He said the Council will start the selection process after the 40-day mourning.
However, Idjirani hinted that Kiram’s brother, Sultan Bantilan Ismael Kiram, is likely to succeed him based on the Sultanate’s law and order of succession.
Bantilan has been the officer-in-charge of the Sultanate in Sulu while Kiram was undergoing dialysis in Manila.
Bantilan’s son, was one of those who were arrested and being tried by the Malaysian government in connection with the intrusion of the Sultanate’s forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Kiram, the Sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, grabbed the limelight when he sent his brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, along with 200 fighters of the Royal Security Forces (RSF) in Lahad Datu to reclaim Sabah from Malaysia.
Idjirani said before the Sultan died, he issued a Royal Order directing his brothers, Bantilan and Raja Muda to continue the fight to regain Sabah from the Malaysian government.
For her part, Princess Jacel Kiram, the sultan’s daughter said the death of her father only strengthen their desire to repossess Sabah from Malaysia.
“Although he did not succeed in reclaiming Sabah during his term, the Filipino people are now fully aware of his position and it only strengthened our fight,” she added.
Idjirani said the Sultan was laid to rest in Maimbung, Sulu, Monday morning. His remains were buried in a town cemetery, where ancient patriarch of the Sulu royal family are traditionally laid to rest, at 10 am.
He added Kiram’s remains arrived in Jolo, Sulu, at about 7:30 a.m. aboard a chartered Lion Air flight that left the Manila Domestic airport past 5 a.m.
The 75-year-old sultan died of multiple organ failure at 4:42 am on Sunday after battling liver ailment.
Idjirani, who accompanied Kiram’s family to Sulu, said the sultan was greeted with a warm welcome by Jolo residents. Under Muslim tradition, the body should be buried within 24 hours.
“It was Sultan Kiram’s wish to be buried in Maimbung, Sulu’s ancient capital,” Idjirani said, adding that Kiram ordered his family to continue fighting for Sabah “for the sake of the Filipino people.”
From the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, Kiram’s remains were brought to his residence in Maharlika Village, Taguig City Sunday morning, and was subsequently displayed at the nearby Blue Mosque before being flown to Sulu at dawn. RITCHIE A. HORARIO