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Manila, Philippines.- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is optimistic the general elections next year in the Philippines will proceed smoothly under an automated system.

Speaking at a forum in the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, which was aired live on television, Clinton said going fully automated for the first time ''is a very positive step forward.''

''I know it's challenging,'' said Clinton, who is on a two-day official visit to Manila. ''Based on experience, there will be some bumps on the road when we move forward toward automation but you just keep on working on it, keep on perfecting it.''

The former US first lady cited India's experience when it first went fully automated in its elections.

''What I was so impressed is the way India set this up. They took it out of politics, it is run by a board of civil servants so that politicians of any party are not involved in it,'' Clinton said.

''And it is so highly effective that nobody questioned the results of the elections and that is what I hope for you,'' she said.

The Commission on Elections has partnered with Smartmatic International for the implementation of the first national automated polls in the Philippines. The poll body had assured that each of the 80,000 machines to be used has a 99.995 percent accuracy rate.