DORE program has its first graduate

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The first D.O.R.E program graduate, Bob Yamagishi, in green robe, receives his certification of completion after his graduation ceremony at the federal court yesterday. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

One of the first participants of the Commonwealth Drug Offender Re-entry program graduated yesterday at the U.S. District Court of the NMI.

Bob Hajime Deleon Guerrero Yamagishi, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, completed all the requirements needed to finish the program and was honored with a graduation ceremony yesterday.

That makes Yamagishi the first of the six who went into the program in 2016 to graduate. As part of the requirements, participants must remain sober for at least six months, remain compliant with the program’s rules, pay off all monetary obligations to the court, and test negative for several drug tests.

The program was started by the district court in January 2016.

District court Chief Judge Ramona Manglona said the road may have been hard for Yamagishi but she is proud of him for trudging forward with the program and remaining sober for eight months.

Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy congratulated Yamagishi for completing all the requirements for graduation and she assured him that the DORE program and its team members would always be there to help get him.

Yamagishi said it feels great to be sober and to finally be drug-free. “I volunteered in this program a couple of years ago because I felt I needed help with my addiction with meth.”

Yamagishi was a methamphetamine user for a couple of years before entering the DORE program and he said he volunteered to enter because he knows the struggles of addiction.

“I understand the problem with meth on our islands so I volunteered in this (DORE program) because I wanted to get help,” he added.

Yamagishi said the choice to get help for methamphetamine addiction lies with the addict, and if they do not want to become drug-free, forcing them into the program will not help them.

“They can’t just be forced by the courts or by the law. You have got to want help and this is the only way,” he added.

Yamagishi said the cause of drug addiction is not the same for each person but, for those who searched for help and entered the program, they will need to persevere and push themselves.

“It’s all different in what we have to go through. …It’s hard and it’s all different for each of us but, whatever is working for you, by all means continue,” he said.

According to Yamagishi, his inspiration was the hope he received from the support of his family, friends, and the DORE program team.

“It’s the things that they did for me that showed me that I mattered, regardless of what I had done wrong in the past. They gave me the hope I needed to fix myself,” he said.

After Yamagishi’s release from the program yesterday, four individuals were left and are also nearing their graduation.

Yamagishi was also released from the DORE program 12 months earlier from his original 24-month sentence, for compliance and completing the program’s requirements.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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