Mayor Maria Clara Rafols Lorenzo-Lobregat, died of cardiac arrest at on. January 2 at the Manila Medical Center. The first woman mayor of Zamboanga City would have turned 83 on April 26. Lobregat, daughter of a politician-businessman, became the second mayor in Zamboanga City to die in office in 20 years. Bullets snuffed the life out of Mayor Cesar Cortes Climaco on November 14, 2004; cardiac arrest caused Lobregat’s death on January 2, 2004.
The second of five children of Pablo Lorenzo and Luisa Rafols, Lobregat started her political career at age 50, as representative of Zamboanga City in the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
Before 1971, Lobregat, mother of six, was president of the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation.
Throughout her political career, Lobregat lost in only one election – in 1984 for the lone seat at the Batasang Pambansa. Allied with the Marcose, she lost to Mayor Climaco who did not assume his post as assemblyman.
With Marcos gone and the then opposition-turned-administration splitting into factions, Lobregat easily won as representative of the lone district of Zamboanga City in the 1987 elections and was reelected in 1992 and 1995. She ran and won the mayoralty in 1998, was reelected in 2001 and was set to file her certificate of candidacy for a third term. Her son Celso, is presently occupying the congressional seat she held from 1987 to 1998. Her nephew, Luis Lorenzo, Jr., is Agriculture Secretary.
Lobregat’s net worth as of end of 2002, was P27.8 million, making her the richest Mindanao city mayor.
In her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as of end of 2002, Lobregat listed 18 companies where she has “shareholdings” and listed as number 19, “other enterprises (resort and others)” where she also has “shareholdings.”
Lobregat’s business interests included banking, real estate, flower growing, mining, resort and resort development, recreation, petroleum, etc.
Lobregat, always seen in public wearing kimona and patadyong, was among three female representatives who figured prominently in the protest actions against the creation of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) in 1996. She, along with then South Cotabato representatives Luwalhati Antonino and Daisy Fuentes, were referred to by the media as “Tres Marias.”
Lobregat was a harsh critic of Moro National Liberation Front chair Nur Misuari, insisted that the controversial coconut levy funds were private funds; campaigned against the inclusion of her city in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the 1989 and 2001 plebiscite; ordered the Filipino deportees from Sabah in 2002 to be “screened” before entering her city, opposed the transfer of the regional seat from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City.
Lobregat was educated at the Pilar College in Zamboanga City, Maryknoll and St. Scholastica in Manila and is the recipient of an  “honoris causa” — Doctor of Humanities from the Ateneo de Davao University in 1979, Doctor in Business Administration from the Aquinas University in 1980, and Doctor in Educational Administration, Western Mindanao State University.
Her major contributions to Zamboanga as a three-termer representative is the sponsorship of RA 7903 which created the Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Zamboanga City, RA 7272, which converted the Zamboanga Regional Hospital into the Zamboanga City Medical Center, RA 7474 which converted the Zamboanga School of Arts and Trades into a polytechnic college, now referred to as the Zamboanga City Polytechnic College and RA 7350, making October 12 of every year a special non-working holiday in Zamboanga to celebrate Fiesta Pilar.