National scientist Angel Alcala, 93

Juaniyo Arcellana, Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
National scientist Angel Alcala, 93
Angel Alcala
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — National Scientist Angel Alcala, a pioneer of marine biodiversity and marine conservation in the Philippines, died at the Silliman University (SU) Medical Center in Dumaguete City at past noon on Wednesday. He was 93.

“SU mourns the loss of a scientist, administrator, trustee, professor, morally upright family man and public servant,” the university said in a statement.

An acclaimed biologist and conservationist, Alcala was known for his pioneering work in establishing marine protected areas in the Philippines focusing on ecosystems and promoting sustainable fishing.

He introduced the concept of community-based coastal resource management in the promotion of marine biodiversity as well as the use of artificial reefs as models for fisheries development. He also did extensive research on Philippine amphibians and reptiles since the mid-50s, according to the SU obit post.

Masungi Georeserve paid tribute to Alcala as its “first defender,” having banned applications for quarrying within the then-proposed nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary when he was environment secretary in 1993.

Alcala was named National Scientist in 2014. He was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service in 1992 and named ASEAN Biodiversity Hero in 2017. He was one of 11 alumni inducted to the Fulbright Philippines Hall of Fame.

He was secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 1992 to 1995 and Commission on Higher Education chairman from 1995 to 1999.

Alcala’s wake will be at the SU church in Dumaguete. Interment is at the Dumaguete National Park on Feb. 10.

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