BLOODY, tough, and inhumane.

These were just a few of the descriptions of the Philippine National Police’s war on drugs, until the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) came up with Oplan Pokémon, which stands for Pakigbatukan Og sugpuon ang Krimen ug ang Epekto sa illegal nga drugas nga Makadaut Og Makaguba sa Nasud.

Under Oplan Pokemon, the CCPO caught 4,816 drug personalities from 3,105 operations with reportedly no human rights violation.

Such an initiative paved the way for CCPO Director Joel Doria to be awarded as one of the 10 recipients of the Metrobank Foundation’s Outstanding Filipinos of 2017.

“We needed a strategy to address all the issues on our anti-criminality and anti-drugs campaign with self-preservation of our men and respect for human rights to our subjects as topmost priority,” said Doria. The city director, though, admitted that he hit a rocky start.

“There was no support at first. There was resistance because of the sudden change but when we reached out to the grassroots, to the barangay level, finally, there was a response,” he said.

The community, media, and barangays, Doria said, all played crucial roles for the success of the program. Oplan Pokémon was named and conceptualized after a popular augmented reality game, Pokémon Go, in which players try to catch virtual “pocket monsters.”

It was launched on July 15 , and was done once every month. But when text messages and intelligence information started to pour in as the campaign gained a momentum, the CCPO decided to have it on a weekly basis.

From street pushers to high-value targets, operatives conducted raids and busts that resulted in the confiscation of at least P300 million worth of drugs.