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The Self-Rule Sultans of Sulu Sultanate

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The death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II on June 7, 1936 brought about immediate dispute to the  succession of the de jure reigning Sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu. As a traditional practice, the reigning Sultan usually nominate his successor and after his death, his nomination shall be confirmed by the leading Royal Datus who are members of an independent advisory body of the Sultanate known  as the “Rajah Junjungan” or Council of Royal Datus. Under the established tradition and customary law of Sulu Sultanate, the “Rajah Junjungan” has to evaluate, elect and declare the proclamation of the new reigning Sultan based from the Sultanate’s Rules of Succession that had been ordained by Sultan Sharif-ul Hashim, the first Sultan of Sulu Sultanate.
After the death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, the legitimate candidate to the throne was his brother, Datu Rajah Muda Mawallil Wasit, a long time recognized heir-apparent. But due to his untimely death Datu Mawalil Wasit failed to become the Sultan of Sulu Sultanate. His death caused the support for the succession divided between the Royal House of Maimbung headed by Dayang-Dayang (Princess) Piandao Kiram, the daughter of Sultan Badaruddin II and the Royal House of Patikul headed by Dayang-Dayang (Princess) Tarhata Kiram-Julkarnain, the daughter of Datu Atik Kiram, the younger brother of Sultan Badaruddin II. It is worth to mention that by tradition, woman belonging to the ruling family could not legally head the Sultanate of Sulu.

Earlier, Sulu Provincial Governor Gulamu Rasul and his father, Hadji Buto Abdulbaqi Rasul, the former Prime Minsiter of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II requested Dayang-Dayang Tarhata Kiram to proclaim her husband, Datu Rajah Laut (Navy Admiral) Tahir Julkarnain, who was a former member of Sulu Provincial Board. He was the great grandson of Sultan Shakirullah and also a grandson of Datu Rajah Laut Jainal “Asibi” Abirin. However, Datu Tahir Julkarnain refused to become the Sulu Sultan, instead he indorsed his cousin, Datu Tambuyong Uyong to be proclaimed as the Sultan, with his suggestion that the name of his grandfather be used as the regal name of Datu Tambuyong. On January 29, 1937, Datu Tambuyong Uyong was proclaimed and crowned the reigning Sultan of Sulu Sultanate under the regal name of Sultan Jainal Abirin. The proclamation was attended by prominent personalities with big crowd held at Taglibi, Ptikul, Sulu.

Later, in Maimbung, Sulu, Dayang-Dayang Piandao Kiram who married Datu Ombra Amilbangsa of Simunul, Tawi-Tawi, also proclaimed her husband as Sultan of Sulu. There was strong opposition from the members of the Council of Royal Datus and Ruma Bichara on the proclamation of Sultan Ombra Amilbangsa on the alleged that he has no lineage from the first Sultan of Sulu Sultanate.

In an effort to resolve the dispute, an appeal was made to President Manuel L. Quezon, but President Quezon refused to take action on the ground that the Sultanate of Sulu has allegedly ended with the death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II. His refusal to take action was based on the acceptance of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II of the Carpenter Agreement of 1915. Unofficially, however, Sultan Ombra was supported by many Philippine Officials in Sulu until the outbreak  of the World War II in 1941. [To be continued.]

By: Datu Albi Ahmad Julkarnain




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